Contra Costa’s progress in COVID-19 fight means retail businesses can reopen on Wednesday, June 3

Plus, small outdoor gatherings, childcare and camps for all children, and libraries with curbside pickup; protests of up to 100 people with social distancing and masks also allowed (LOL – no, seriously. They’re “allowed” now)

By Kim McCarl, Communications Assistant, Contra Costa Health Services

Thanks to substantial progress being made in the fight against COVID-19, Contra Costa County residents can go back to work, shop at local retail stores, get childcare and hang out with small groups of loved ones starting June 3.

Indoor retail shopping, business offices, outdoor museums and pet grooming are among the businesses that will reopen in Contra Costa County under the latest shelter-in-place order released today. The order also permits services that don’t require close customer contact, such as housekeeping, car washes, plumbing and pet grooming.

The new health order also allows small outdoor social gatherings, as well as childcare and camps for all children, not just children of essential and allowed workers. Those childcare services and camps still can only have up to 12 children in stable cohorts.

Libraries can reopen for curbside pickup service and protests of up to 100 people will also be permitted. Religious services will be able to resume on June 15, although with some limitations. In the coming days, the County will be consulting with the state about reopening swimming pools and outdoor dining.

“This latest step toward reopening our county is a reflection of our successful collective effort as a community to limit the spread of the virus,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, the county’s health officer. “I know there’s a lot of frustration out there, but it’s important to keep in mind that interventions like social distancing have saved lives.”

To date, 37 people have died from COVID-19 in Contra Costa, a county with a population of 1.15 million people. Dr. Farnitano said had the county had not acted early and aggressively, enacting the initial shelter-in-place order on mid-March, ten times as many people would have died from the virus.

Contra Costa has made significant headway in meeting its five indicators for reopening. Aside from new cases and hospitalizations not increasing, all eight hospitals have attested they now have a 30-day supply of personal protective equipment, one of the five reopening indictors. Hospitals also have sufficient capacity to handle more patients. While progress has been made in testing, the county still needs to triple the amount of tests being done to reach its goal.

The latest health order follows previous relaxations of the shelter in place that allowed construction, real estate transactions, curbside retail and manufacturing, recreational activities like golf and tennis and reopening of outdoor businesses like nurseries.

This Order supersedes the May 18, 2020, Order of the Health Officer directing all individuals to shelter in place (“Prior Order”). This Order continues to restrict most activity, travel, and governmental and business functions to essential needs and to the Outdoor Activities and Outdoor Businesses that the prior Order allowed to resume.  But in light of progress achieved in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in the County of Contra Costa (the “County”), the Order allows a limited number of Additional Businesses (as described in Section 15.n…and in Appendix C-1) and Additional Activities (as described in Section 15.o…and in Appendix C-2) to resume operating, subject to specified conditions and safety precautions to reduce associated risk of COVID-19 transmission.

What’s Allowed Now

Businesses include indoor retail, shopping malls, shopping centers and swap meets, manufacturing and logistics and warehouse facilities.

The additional activities now allowed include social gatherings of persons in a Social Bubble, as defined below, may take place if: the gathering takes place outside only, and the participants comply with all other applicable requirements under this Order. In addition, persons in social bubbles over 12 years of age are strongly encouraged to maintain social distancing from each other w ear face coverings

Finally, protests are also allowed now. Subject to requirements and restrictions of the local jurisdiction in which the protest takes place, persons may participate in protests if they wear Face Coverings and comply with Social Distancing Requirements, and attendance does not exceed 25 percent of the area’s maximum capacity or 100 persons, whichever is lower. (Editor’s Note: Seriously, that’s what the order includes. We will see if that part of the order is enforced).

As a condition of operating under this Order, the operators of all businesses must prepare or update, post, implement, and distribute to their personnel a Social Distancing Protocol for each of their facilities in the County frequented by personnel or members of the public.

An email asking if churches can reopen their administrative offices was sent to the spokesperson for the county health services. No response was received prior to publication. Please check back later for updates to this report.

To see the full order, click here. To see additional details on orders from the county health officer visit For more details about COVID-19 in Contra Costa County, visit

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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