Latest order allows retail curbside pickup, car parades, more outdoor activities to resume

Megan V. Winslow
A sign in the window of Eco-Fash notifies customers of the downtown Los Altos thrift shop’s temporary closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. Starting Friday, retail businesses will be allowed to offer curbside pickup.

Santa Clara County’s fourth round of changes to its shelter-in-place order allows several businesses and activities to make a comeback, with limitations, county leaders announced today (May 18).

Shopping safely

The latest order, effective Friday (May 22), allows retail businesses to offer curbside pickup. Merchants can reopen for sales but must process transactions outdoors. Customers are still not permitted inside shops.

Stores are not allowed to showcase their products outside, and customers must have direct access to a sidewalk, street, outdoor walkway, parking lot or alley for pickup. County counsel James Williams clarified that businesses inside larger buildings without their own pedestrian connections, such as those located in indoor complexes, will not be allowed to reopen at this time. However, outdoor malls with pathways to businesses can offer curbside pickup.

The order also limits the number of employees that can work in a retail store at once. Williams said to ensure social distancing, only one employee will be allowed per 300 gross square feet at any given time.

The county also is allowing manufacturers and distributors to resume work.

Retail curbside pickup is an option in the state’s Phase 2 plan for reopening; the county was able to select the option from among others because of progress residents have made in preventing the spread of the coronavirus, health officer Dr. Sara Cody said. According to Cody, data recorded since May 4 show success in five key indicators set by Bay Area health officers: total number of cases and hospitalizations, total hospital capacity available, the amount of daily testing, case and contact investigation, and personal protective equipment stock.

Exactly 14 days – or the length of the incubation period for a case of COVID-19 – after the previous order allowed construction, outdoor businesses and some outdoor recreation activities to reopen, Cody said she and her staff observed residents’ sustained progress before reintroducing further business activity.

“By proceeding cautiously and safely, we will increase consumer confidence, improve resilience and ultimately, we will recover,” Cody said.

Tightening the code

Under the latest order, all businesses – essential and nonessential – must post a new social-distancing protocol. Operating businesses were previously required to post information about how they were keeping customers and employees safe and reducing physical contact amid the pandemic, and the latest order requires them to use a new template or update protocols to incorporate new requirements, including posting a “COVID-19 Prepared” sign and a visitor information sheet in a “prominent place” near the entry.

Getting outside

As residents enter their 10th week of sheltering in place, they will have additional opportunities to get fresh air when outdoor museums, historical sites and publicly accessible gardens reopen Friday. Visitors are restricted to outdoor areas.

After a two-week ban, car parades are also permitted, as long as participants ride in cars only with members of their households and do not leave their cars or stop to gather during the procession. Bicycles and motorcycles are barred from participating.

Those who leave their homes for “essential or allowed” trips are urged to wear facial coverings when outdoors and are required to wear them indoors when entering a grocery store, convenience store or pharmacy. Covering one’s face, regularly maintaining good hygiene and practicing social distancing are the foundation for the county to maintain its progress and continue to reopen businesses, county leaders said.

To read the May 22 order, visit

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