Questions about San Joaquin County Public Health Officer and Director of Emergency Services Order directing individuals to Stay at Home due to COVID-19.

General Information

Q. When does this Order become effective?

A. This Order became effective at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, March 21, 2020.

Q. How long will the order last?

A. The Order is currently set to be in place until 11:59 p.m. on April 7, 2020, or until it is extended, rescinded, superseded, or amended in writing by the Director of Emergency Services or the Board of Supervisors.

Q. What areas does this Order apply to?

A. This Order is in effect in all of San Joaquin County.

Q. What does this order do?

A. This order requires that, starting at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, March 21, 2020, residents in San Joaquin County are to stay at their place of residence unless performing an essential duty. For most people, this means you and those you live with should remain at home. You are allowed to leave your home for specified reasons to make sure you have the necessities of life such as getting food and medical supplies. You are also allowed to go outside to take care of pets, go on a walk, exercise outside, and just get outside, so long as you do not congregate in a group and maintain at least six feet of distance between you and other people.

Q. Why is this order in place?

A. Due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in the general public, which is now a pandemic according to the World Health Organization, there is a public health emergency throughout the County. Making the problem worse, some individuals who contract the COVID-19 virus have no symptoms or have mild symptoms, which means they may not be aware they are carrying and spreading the virus. Because even people without symptoms can transmit the disease, and because evidence shows the disease is easily spread, gatherings can result in preventable transmission of the virus. The scientific evidence shows that at this stage of the emergency, it is essential to slow virus transmission as much as possible to protect the most vulnerable and to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed. One proven way to slow the transmission is to limit interactions among people to the greatest extent practicable. By reducing the spread of the COVID-19 virus, this Order helps preserve critical and limited healthcare capacity in the County.

Q. Why now?

A. With the increases in cases of confirmed COVID-19 in the County, and deaths, this Order is necessary to slow the rate of spread and the Director of Emergency Services will re-evaluate it as further data becomes available. Additionally, this order implements Executive Order N-33-20, issued by Governor Newsom on March 19, 2020.

Q. What does this order mean?

A. The “stay at home” Order means to stay in your home and not leave unless necessary for one of the designated exceptions listed in the Order. Some reasons you would leave your home are to get food, to get a prescription, to see a doctor, to go to work if your work is essential as defined in the Order, to take your child(ren) to and from childcare that is authorized under this Order, and to help people you care for get the things they need to live and be healthy and safe.

Q. What is the difference between “staying at home” and “social distancing”?

A. Staying home is a more rigorous form of social distancing. There are some differences. Staying at home means:

  • only going out for “essential activities,” to work for an “essential business,” or for “essential travel” as those terms are defined in the Order,
  • stay 6 feet or more away from others
  • no formal gathering

The other mitigation measures of social distancing and personal hygiene will continue to be applied whenever feasible. These include washing hands, using hand sanitizer, disinfecting surfaces, not going out if sick, and staying at least six feet away from others.

Q. Is the Order mandatory or just guidance?

A. Yes, it is mandatory. This is a legal Order issued under the authority of California law. You are required to comply. Also, it is critical for everyone to follow the Order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect themselves, their loved ones, friends, neighbors and the whole community. All persons, businesses, and other entities are required to comply if they do not fall within the exemptions that are specified in the Order.

Q. Am I allowed to leave my home while this Order is in effect?

A. Yes. Individuals may leave their place of residence to acquire or receive essential services or supplies to ensure the health and safety of yourself and your family, engage in outdoor activity that does not involve close contact with other people, obtain services and supplies for yourself and your family, and to perform employment functions that are permissible under the Order. You may also engage in outdoor activity, keeping in mind the social distancing requirements, such as walking, hiking, biking, running, equestrian activities.

Q. What are “essential activities”?

A. Essential actives include:

  • To engage in activities or perform tasks essential to their health and safety, or to the health and safety of their family or household members (including, but not limited to, pets), such as, obtaining medical supplies or medication, visiting a health care professional, or obtaining supplies needed to work from home.
  • To obtain necessary services or supplies for themselves and their family or household members, or to deliver those services or supplies to others, such as, canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supply, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, and any other household consumer products, and products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences.
  • To engage in outdoor activity, provided the individuals comply with Social Distancing Requirements, such as, walking, hiking, biking, running or equestrian activities.
  • To perform work providing essential products and services at an Essential Business or to otherwise carry out activities specifically permitted in this Order, including Minimum Basic Operations.
  • To care for a family member or pet in another household.
  • To attend private gatherings of not more than six nonrelatives in a home or place of residence. Participants should practice Social Distancing Requirements at all times at such gatherings.

Q. Who do I call if I suspect the Order is being violated?

A. If you would like to report a suspected violation of the Order, you may call the non-emergency telephone number of the law enforcement agency that provides services in the jurisdiction where the violation is occurring.

Non-emergency phone numbers

  • Stockton Police Department: (209) 937-8377
  • Lodi Police Department: (209) 333-6727
  • Manteca Police Department: (209) 456-8101
  • Ripon Police Department: (209) 599-2102
  • Escalon Police Department: (209) 838-7093
  • Tracy Police Department: (209) 831-6550
  • San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office: (209) 468-4400

* This answer is stated as agreed upon by the agency heads for the city police departments and Sheriff in San Joaquin County.

Q. What is the role of law enforcement officers who investigate suspected violations?

A. Assuring the safety of the public is always a primary role of law enforcement agencies. Officers who investigate suspected violations will evaluate the circumstances and determine what action should be taken to assure the safety of the public. In many cases, educating community members on the best ways to assure their safety and the safety of the community is all that is necessary.

* This answer is stated as agreed upon by the agency heads for the city police departments and Sheriff in San Joaquin County.

Products and Services

Q. Should I stock up on necessities such as food and medicines?

A. No. You will continue to be able to purchase these items whenever you need them, as stores selling necessary items like grocery stores, pharmacies, and hardware stores will remain open. Please continue to buy normal quantities of these items on the same schedule you normally do. This will ensure that there is enough for everyone.

Q. Can I get my prescription drugs or other health care supplies?

A. Yes. Pharmacies, healthcare supply stores, and healthcare facilities are allowed to operate.

Q. Will my daycare be shut down?

A. Childcare facilities may only operate if they enable employees exempt by this Order to continue working as permitted and only under certain conditions. Among these conditions, children must be cared for in groups of 12 or fewer, groups of children may not mix with each other, and providers may not circulate between groups.

Q. What if my plumbing gets stopped up? How will I access those sorts of services?

A. Call your plumber. This Order allows service providers like plumbers, electricians, and exterminators to keep working and providing their services to the public. To obtain supplies for a DIY solution, you can also visit your hardware store, which is allowed to stay open under this Order.

Q. Can I still order the things I need online and have them delivered to my residence?

A. Yes, the Order identifies businesses that deliver goods or services directly to residences as “essential businesses” that may continue to operate.

Travel

Q. Does the Order allow me to leave the County?

A. The Order allows travel out of the County only to perform “essential activities,” operate “essential business,” or maintain “essential governmental functions,” as those terms are defined in the Order.

Q. What happens if I leave San Joaquin County to go on a planned vacation?

A. The Order requires that you remain in your place of residence. If you leave San Joaquin County for vacation or another reason that is not an essential purpose exempt under the Order, then you may not be permitted to return to your residence. Traveling runs the risk of spreading the virus to other areas and exposing new populations.

Q. Can I continue to use public transit?

A. Public transit will continue to operate on a limited basis. Public transit can only be used to perform “essential activities,” to get to and from work to operate “essential business,” or to maintain “essential governmental functions,” as those terms are defined in the Order. People riding public transit must comply with Social Distancing Requirements.

Food

Q. I don’t cook — how can I purchase meals?

A. Restaurants, cafes, food trucks, and similar establishments may remain open to supply meals to the public via delivery and carryout. You can also purchase prepared foods at grocery stores, supermarkets, certified farmers’ markets, convenience stores, and other such food retailers.

Q. How can I access free or reduced price meals for myself or my family?

A. Schools, soup kitchens, food banks, and other entities that provide free or reduced priced food goods or meals to students or other members of the public are encouraged to continue providing these services. However, food provided by these establishments to the public may not be eaten on the premises but must instead be delivered or taken away for consumption.

Health

Q. I become anxious when cooped up in my house. Am I allowed to go to a park or on a hike?

A. Yes. Spending time outside improves mood and wellbeing, and is particularly beneficial to children. You can go for walks, go to the park, and engage in other similar activities, but should maintain social distance (i.e. be more than 6 feet away from persons who are not part of your household) when on walks and in parks to avoid spread of the virus.

Q. What should I do if I’m feeling sick?

A. Unless you are experiencing a medical emergency, call your doctor, nurse hotline, or urgent care center first before going to the hospital. Call 911 or go to an emergency room if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Business

Q. Will all business offices and stores be required to close?

A. No, Businesses that are needed to maintain the continuity of operations of Essential Critical Infrastructure sectors and additional sectors as may be designated by the State Public Health Officer may continue to operate. For information on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Sectors see https://covid19.ca.gov/img/EssentialCriticalInfrastructureWorkers.pdf

Q. What if my business does not support Essential Critical Infrastructure? Does this Order require that I shut down my business facility?

A. Yes.

Q. Are non-profit organizations allowed to continue to operate?

A. If they provide support essential critical infrastructure as described in the Order, then yes they can and should continue providing those services. This would include non-profits operating food pantries, providing housing for homeless residents, and many other critical services.

Q. Who do I call if I suspect the Order is being violated?

A. If you would like to report a suspected violation of the Order, you may call the non-emergency telephone number of the law enforcement agency that provides services in the jurisdiction where the violation is occurring.

Non-emergency phone numbers

  • Stockton Police Department: (209) 937-8377
  • Lodi Police Department: (209) 333-6727
  • Manteca Police Department: (209) 456-8101
  • Ripon Police Department: (209) 599-2102
  • Escalon Police Department: (209) 838-7093
  • Tracy Police Department: (209) 831-6550
  • San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office: (209) 468-4400

* This answer is stated as agreed upon by the agency heads for the city police departments and Sheriff in San Joaquin County.

Q. What is the role of law enforcement officers who investigate suspected violations?

A. Assuring the safety of the public is always a primary role of law enforcement agencies. Officers who investigate suspected violations will evaluate the circumstances and determine what action should be taken to assure the safety of the public. In many cases, educating community members on the best ways to assure their safety and the safety of the community is all that is necessary.

* This answer is stated as agreed upon by the agency heads for the city police departments and Sheriff in San Joaquin County.

Q. Where can I get more information?

A. The State maintains an up-to-date website that provides ongoing updates on illness rates at covid19.ca.gov. The San Joaquin County Office of Emergency Services maintains and updates www.SJReady.org with additional preparedness information on COVID-19 and other pertinent information for any emergency.

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