Effective immediately, bars, gyms, movie theaters, hair salons can reopen in San Mateo County

Dr. Scott Morrow, San Mateo County's Health Officer

June 17 — Dine-in restaurants, hair salons and barber shops, gyms and movie theaters are among the businesses that can reopen under a new health order issued today by San Mateo County Public Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow.

The county originally closed all but essential businesses in March to “flatten the curve” of coronavirus cases.

The daily total of new cases and deaths in the county have fallen to with state guidelines for the next stage of reopening.

The order allows gatherings of up to 50 people. Face masks are still required in public. Businesses that reopen must follow social distancing guidelines and employee testing requirements.

Here’s a link to the county’s statement about the new health order.

June 16 — The state has granted San Mateo County a variance to the coronavirus stay-at-home order to allow the return of indoor restaurant dining, gyms, bars, movie theaters and hair salons, among other businesses.

The county requested the variance saying its coronavirus testing numbers are within the guidelines to take the next step in reopening.

Now that the state has approved the move, the county will issue a new health order next week. Until then, the current closures will remain.

“For our restaurants and other small businesses crippled by the economic impacts of this pandemic, this is the best news imaginable,” said County Supervisor David Canepa, who represents the Daly City area. “It will be a balancing act between preserving public health and kickstarting our local economy. There are risks with every step we take and it will take all of us to take personal responsibility to stop the spread of the virus.”

San Mateo County was one of the first and most aggressive to implement a shelter-in-place order in March. The variance the county obtained allows it to align its order with the state.

“This is great news for so many of the thousands of small businesses that are truly the backbone of our local economy, especially in East Palo Alto and North Fair Oaks,” said County Supervisor Warren Slocum, whose District 4 includes both communities. “People want to get back to work. That said, it’s up to all of us to continue to wear face coverings and to maintain social distancing so we can continue to reopen both the economy and our social lives in a safe manner.”

June 13 — headline: Bars, gyms, movie theaters may be the next places to reopen

Daily Post Staff Writer

Bars, gyms, movie theaters and malls could be the next places that open in San Mateo County following the coronavirus shutdown.

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors on Fridday voted to send the state a request to allow those places to reopen.

The request represents a turnabout for the county. Previously, San Mateo County had been one of the slowest counties in the state to allow businesses to reopen.

The county’s chief health officer, Dr. Scott Morrow, will send a letter to the state saying the county meets the requirements necessary for this level of reopening. The requirements involve the number of positive cases and hospitalizations over the past 14 days. Morrow will also have to attest to the fact that the county has a sufficient amount of personal protection equipment, or PPEs, on hand for medical providers.

If approved by the state, the county could allow the return of:

• Indoor restaurant dining;
• Shopping in malls;
• Schools with modifications to prevent the spread of the virus;
• Campgrounds;
• Cardrooms;
• Movie theaters;
• Bars and wineries;
• Gyms, and
• Professional sports without spectators.

If the request is approved by the state, that means the county will be able to move into Stage 3 — which is described by the state as phasing in “high-risk workplaces” such as “personal care and recreational venues.” While not spelled out by the state, Stage 3 likely means the reopening of hair salons and barbershops, tattoo parlors, libraries and community centers.

County acknowledges economic ‘devastation’

“This further harmonization with the (state) is an attempt to strike a balance between the need to protect the public’s health and prevent the overwhelming of health care systems, and the need to start reversing the economic devastation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic,” the report from Supervisor Warren Slocum’s office says.

County Manager Mike Callagy has previously said that the county has not met some of the biggest benchmarks to be able to submit the request, but county officials have been steadily working on ramping up testing and contact tracing in order to meet the state’s standards.

Contact tracers

According to the memo to the board, the county has met the state’s threshold of having 1,151 test results every day and has a plan in place to have 115 contact tracers. Right now the county has 30 full-time employees working as contact tracers and is working to build up to 85 tracers by July and expand to 115 sometime thereafter, Deputy Health Chief Srija Srinivasan said on June 3.

So far, tracers have contacted all 2,212 people who have tested positive with the virus and have done the necessary outreach to others who may have also contracted the virus, Srinivasan said.

Hospitalizations are pretty level and near state standards, according to the memo from Slocum’s office. The state requires that there be only 20 hospital admissions related to COVID-19 per day. Over the past 44 days, the county has exceeded that cap three times. On those days, 25, 22 and 22 patients were admitted. The memo also states that the county has hospital capacity to withstand a surge of cases if needed.

The request from the county comes after County Schools Superintendent Nancy Magee announced her guidelines describing how schools can reopen in the fall.

It is not clear when the state will approve the county’s request.


  1. Santa Cruz featuring dine in restaurants. Leaves San Mateo county driving constituents to leave county moving tax revenue elsewhere. SMC continues to harm businesses.

  2. We may as well just pretend that there was never Covid-19 and throw the doors open to everything. I am very disappointed that these decisions are so clearly money driven, and I believe our governor has sold out. If I thought that people were actually socially distancing, wearing masks and taking this monster virus seriously, I’d be more comfortable with opening up. But I am out every day, and am usually one of the few people wearing a mask. Until people can act responsibly, it is not time to throw the doors open.

    • Barb the reason that people are so relaxed is that they see people like you who are overracting and fearmongering and say to themselves, “Hold on now, it doesn’t look that bad” they they go out on the town

  3. Morrow has ulterior motives and wants reopening to fail so he can lock it all back up Read his June 1st statement. It reads like a ted kazinski memoir. He predicts the end of life as we knew it and economic times worse than the Great Depression coming soon. Period. Nothing we can do according to him. Don’t you think it’s peculiar that all of a sudden he, the one with the strictest SIP orders is now opening up everything? If you ,read his other statements you’ll see he disagrees about opening saying it will come back 100x worse. Now he has to make sure it does or he’ll be laughed out of the county.

  4. I disagree with this reopening so fast, I will be very cautious and still not going out to the businesses I like, this is not about money…is about saving lives, I don’t want to play the Russian roulette, I already heard a lot of people getting sick and some have died. If anyone thinks you are immune, that is your thoughts, I am healthy and that doesn’t mean I am exempt to get sick very worse without knowing, this virus doesn’t care if you are healthy or unhealthy, if you are republican or democrat, if you are white or black, if you are christian or atheist,it just wants to host a body and do wherever to kill it.

  5. I am very glad to see sensible comments about people not going out to these places even if they open, for a long while to come. Decisions are clearly money-driven and responsibility passed down government entities like a hot potato (nobody wants to pay the political cost). Until people have someone close seriously sick or worse, they will not understand the seriousness of this situation.
    Just last weekend, driving down hwy 1 there were hundreds of cars parked alongside state beaches and people clearly not social-distancing. If you can, avoid being out.

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