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Public Health Officer Issues NEW Shelter Order for Marin County in Response to COVID-19
On March 31, health officers in seven Bay Area jurisdictions – including Marin County – extended a previous stay-at-home order through May 3, 2020 in order to preserve critical hospital capacity across the region.
The previous three-week order was set to expire on April 7. While the prior order has been effective in reducing the rate of transmission of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), public health officials say it is not enough. There has been a significant increase in the number of positive cases, hospitalization and deaths from COVID-19, which is beginning to strain healthcare resources.
The health officers have determined that more and stricter social distancing is needed to slow the rate of spread, prevent deaths, and stop the health care system from becoming overwhelmed.
“I know many were hoping for the shelter in place order to end sooner, but this is our best tool to protect ourselves – and more importantly to save lives,” said Dr. Lisa Santora, Marin County Deputy Public Health Director.
The new stay-at-home order will supersede the previous order and go into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, March 31. It is a complement to the indefinite statewide stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier this month.
Like the previous local order, the new order requires people to stay at home except for doing essential activities, such as grocery shopping, in six counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara, as well as the city of Berkeley. Non-essential businesses will remain closed.
The new order adds some clarifying language around essential business and activities, as well as some new directives, including:
- Use of playgrounds, dog parks, public picnic areas, and similar recreational areas is prohibited. These areas must be closed to public use.
- Use of shared public recreational facilities such as golf courses, tennis and basketball courts, pools, and rock walls is prohibited. These facilities must be closed for recreational use.
- Sports requiring people to share a ball or other equipment must be limited to people in the same household
- Requires essential businesses to develop a social distancing protocol before April 3
- Most construction—residential and commercial—is prohibited
- Funerals limited to no more than 10 people attending
- Essential businesses expanded to include service providers that enable residential transactions (notaries, title companies, Realtors, etc.); funeral homes and cemeteries; moving companies, rental car companies and rideshare services that specifically enable essential activities
- Essential businesses that continue to operate facilities must scale down operations to their essential component only
An executive summary of the new order was drafted to provide guidance on the new order.
In addition to the updated regional Shelter in Place Order, Marin County Public Health issued an updated Park Closure Order that provides clarity on park and open space access in Marin County. In summary, the new order states that individuals may access parks and open space areas that are local to their homes and are easily accessible by foot, bicycle or other non-motorized means, strictly for the purpose of engaging in exercise, as defined by the updated Shelter In Place order. Driving to access parks or open space areas is prohibited, except for individuals with disabilities with vehicles possessing current and valid Disabled Person Parking Placards or License Plates. Above all, all visitors to any park location must continue comply with social distancing requirements and are expected to stay local to the greatest extent possible.
Social distancing is the most powerful tool to slow the spread of COVID-19, a virus so new that it has no approved medicines or vaccines.
“What we need now, for the health of all our communities, is for people to stay home,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health. “Even though it has been difficult, the Bay Area has really stepped up to the challenge so far, and we need to reaffirm our commitment. We need more time to flatten the curve, to prepare our hospitals for a surge, and to do everything we can to minimize the harm that the virus causes to our communities.”
Impacts to City of Novato Services
During this uncertain time, the City Council and our dedicated City staff are working hard to ensure essential City services remain available. We are engaged in the response and prevention efforts for COVID-19 and are working closely with our county, state, and federal partners.
How Are City Services Being Impacted?
Our first responders are on the job, prioritizing the health and safety of the community. To help limit the spread of COVID-19, our police department front lobby at 909 Machin Avenue remains closed to public access, and we encourage the public to utilize our online police reporting services at novatopolice.org or calling our 24/7 non-emergency line at (415) 897-1122. In the event of an emergency, dial 9-1-1 for assistance.
Each call for service to the police department will be individually evaluated to determine response. This evaluation will include questions about symptoms of illness that you or other involved persons may be exhibiting. All callers will be asked this information in an effort to identify how to best respond and minimize exposure to police staff so that they can continue to provide public safety service to our community.
If your report or emergency requires in-person police response, please know that under certain circumstances, and to comply with social distancing recommendations, our officers may request you meet them outside for police interaction. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding as we care for the community at this time.
The City Administration building and public-facing lobby, located at 922 Machin Avenue, remains closed. Essential services are available by phone, email or appointment only. If you have urgent City business, please call 415-899-8900. Many services and information are available on our website at novato.org.
In order to comply with the purpose and intent of the County’s Order, construction activities, inspections and permitting will continue for essential activities only. All non-essential activities and permitting will cease until such time as the Order is lifted.
Applications for new permits will continue to be accepted by email at email@example.com, as well as by appointment. Please review the How to Apply for a Building Permit via Email handout for more information. Note that we are continuing these services with limited staffing so we appreciate your patience as you may experience delays with your application and inspections.
Planning Division: Processing of project applications will continue. Planning staff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Code Enforcement: Complaints involving life-safety issues will continue as normal; all others will be deferred.
Resale Inspection: Temporarily suspended during the local emergency; please check novato.org/codeenforcement for details.
We will continue to maintain essential services including maintenance related to critical infrastructure including streets, storm drains, pump stations and levees. These types of essential services include, but are not limited to, work to keep vegetation from blocking traffic signs and lines of sight for drivers and pedestrians; cleanup of leaves and debris that would otherwise clog public storm drains and potentially cause flooding; and response to the changing public health order by closing facilities and posting warning signs. Custodial services will continue for our buildings that remain open.
Visit the City of Novato COVID-19 webpage at novato.org/coronavirus to sign up for email or text message updates from the City, as well as for information on impacts to the City services, City facility closures and cancelled and postponed events, what to do if you are feeling sick, and tips on how to reduce your risk of exposure.
Novato businesses and workers impacted by COVID-19, visit novato.org/COVID19biz for a listing of resources including information regarding unemployment, disability and paid family leave benefits; small business loans and grants; tax assistance; non-profit support; as well as information on workplace health and safety.
For up-to-date information on what other local agencies are doing in response to COVID-19, please visit the following websites:
Marin Health and Human Services: marinhhs.org/coronavirus
Novato Unified School District: nusd.org/coronavirus-covid-19
North Marin Water District: nmwd.com
Novato Sanitary District: novatosan.com
Marin Transit: marintransit.org
Golden Gate Transit: goldengate.org/district/news-media