Everyone is required to stay home, except for essential needs. When out, protect yourself and those around you by wearing a face covering, staying 6 feet away from others, and washing your hands often. Learn more at cityofberkeley.info/covid19. City offices are closed to the public. Some services are available remotely.

The City of Berkeley Health Officer has ordered all residents to shelter at home, leaving only to receive or provide essential services, starting 12:01 am on Tuesday, March 17. See details of the Order, frequently asked questions, and recommendations from Berkeley Public Health at https://www.cityofberkeley.info/coronavirus.

City Council Live Stream: Please visit https://www.cityofberkeley.info/CalendarEventWebcastMain.aspx

ZAB Live Stream: Please visit http://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/Commissions/Zoning_Adjustment_Board_Meeting_-_Video_Stream.aspx.

The City of Berkeley web site is undergoing scheduled maintenance starting on Friday night, September 13 and ending on Saturday afternoon, September 14. During this time, most web pages should be available, but some resources may become unavailable for short periods of time.

Looking for a live stream of the Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) meeting on 5/9/19, at 7:00pm? Please visit https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1UAnZ8kU8EWllREyOY7rwQ/. The normal viewing methods will not work this time due to a concurrent City Council Special Meeting at the same time.

Looking for a live stream of the Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) meeting on 2/28/19, from 6:00 to 11:00 PM? Please visit http://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/Commissions/Zoning_Adjustment_Board_Meeting_-_Video_Stream.aspx. The normal viewing methods will not work this time due to a concurrent City Council Special Meeting at the same date and time.

PG&E is reporting a widespread outage affecting thousands of customers in Berkeley and many City buildings, including the Finance Customer Service Center and the Permit Service Center. Call respective City services for further details, or check the PG&E outage page. Power is expected to return by 12:45pm. Traffic lights that are not working should be treated as a four-way stop sign.

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A message from City of Berkeley Health Officer Dr. Lisa Hernandez

Berkeley, California (Thursday, March 19, 2020) - On Monday, I issued a legal order directing Berkeley residents to shelter in place for three weeks as we experience “community spread” of COVID-19, which means that people with mild symptoms may unknowingly be spreading the virus to others. I want to offer some guidance to help navigate what The Order intends.

Under this order, everyone should stay home for the next three weeks except to get food, healthcare, or other basic necessities, care for a relative or friend, or go to work at an essential job. If you have mild symptoms of an illness, stay home, but call your physician if you have concerns.

City buildings are now closed to the public. Meetings and events have been canceled. But essential services will continue. Berkeley will keep picking up trash and recycling. Our firefighters, paramedics, police officers, and public health workers are all working hard alongside dozens of other staff working specifically on COVID-19 response.

The time to act is now

This shelter in place order may seem extreme, but our current situation demands extreme response. For weeks, Health Officers across the Bay Area closely monitored data showing exponential acceleration of COVID-19 cases, severe illness among them and regional infections without being exposed to a known case. We also know that test-confirmed cases are only a fraction of the total cases, for which many have mild, if any, symptoms.

We are now at a critical inflection point. Without immediate, strong, and aggressive action to slow the spread of this disease, our health care system will soon be overwhelmed past its capacity to treat patients, especially the most severely ill, who will need mechanical ventilators to help them breathe.

Many people who are infected have mild symptoms or don’t have symptoms at all, but they can easily spread the virus to others unknowingly. With no approved treatment or vaccine for COVID-19, the most effective way to protect everyone, and especially those most vulnerable, is to eliminate opportunities for people to infect others as much as possible.

What you can do

It’s important to remember that sheltering at home is not quarantine. You can still leave your house to get the necessities of life and to help people you care for get the things they need to live.

Here is a partial list of what you can do and what businesses are allowed to operate under the order. For a complete list of businesses considered “essential”, see the FAQ on our website.

  • Food: Food will still be available. You can buy food at grocery stores, farmers markets, and convenience stores. Food banks can still operate. Restaurants can provide takeout and delivery. Please buy normal quantities of food and other essential items like baby formula so there is enough for everyone.

  • Health Care:You can still visit a doctor and go to the drugstore or pharmacy to buy medicine.

  • Household needs: You can call a plumber, electrician, or exterminator if you need one. You can buy materials for essential home repairs at a hardware store. You can bring your clothes to a laundromat or dry cleaner.

  • Work: You can work from home if your employer allows it. You can leave home to go to work if you are employed by an essential business.

  • Childcare: If you work for an essential business, you can bring your kids to childcare that are compliant with the Order.

  • Caregiving: Many of us are caregivers. You can leave home to bring necessities to or help elderly family members or other friends who need support caring for themselves.

  • Transportation: BART, buses, taxis, and rideshare companies will still be able to transport you to essential services, or to work providing an essential service. You can still get gas and get your car fixed.

  • Recreation: You can take your dog for a walk, go hiking, or exercise outdoors, but you should do these things on your own, not in a group. It’s fine to take your kids to play in a park.

What you can’t do

The order prohibits activities that could increase spread of COVID-19, or endanger people in high risk groups.

This includes most in-person socializing. While the order is in place, you can’t:

  • invite friends or family who don’t live with you over to your home
  • have a picnic in a park with people who don’t live with you
  • go to a bar, concert, or movie
  • dine in at a restaurant
  • work out at a gym
  • play group sports
  • visit loved ones in the hospital, nursing home, or other residential care (in most cases). This is to protect hospital staff and patients in vulnerable groups.

Try to find alternatives for daily activities that aren’t allowed. Instead of the gym, try exercises outdoors. Places of worship can’t hold services in person, but may do so via video stream. Schools can’t hold classes in person, but may provide distance learning.

High risk individuals

People over 60 and those with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes are at the highest risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

If you are at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19, you should self-isolate as much as possible. If someone is available to help you with tasks like bringing groceries, ask them to. Review CDC recommendations for high-risk individuals and call your doctor now to make a plan for monitoring your health.

When you go out

Whenever you are outside your home, maintain at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others. That’s about three steps. This protects both you and those around you. Maintaining this distance is especially critical if you are helping or bringing supplies to someone at high risk.

Continue to practice healthy behaviors that slow the spread of disease:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use hand sanitizer only when soap and water is not available.
  • Do not touch your face.
  • Cover coughs and sneeze with a tissue or your elbow.
  • Stay home if you are sick.

If you get sick

If you feel sick, call your doctor, a nurse hotline, or an urgent care center before seeking care in person. Visiting medical care facilities can expose workers and patients to your illness, or expose you to other illnesses. Your doctor may advise you to stay home if your symptoms are mild. Not everyone needs to be tested.

Try to self-isolate and take other steps not to expose anyone else to your illness. If possible, walk or drive yourself to get healthcare to avoid exposing others.

Do not go to the emergency room unless you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Our actions make a difference

We know that COVID-19 has been spreading in our community. Over the coming weeks, more people will get sick, many severely so. If we don’t take rigorous action now to slow the spread, our health care system will become overwhelmed to the point where we may not have enough beds or equipment to adequately care for the most seriously ill.

Taking action like this has been proven to reduce the rate of infections – and allow hospitals to manage the caseload as people become sick.

Hundreds of thousands of Bay Area residents still have to go to work every day to provide the essential services that support day-to-day life for 7 million people. This includes our health care workers – not just those on the front lines of this fight in hospitals, but also scientists working to develop treatments and those who produce and distribute medicines, masks, and other medical supplies. It includes those we depend on to cook food in restaurants, collect trash, stock our grocery store shelves, deliver essential goods, and drive the buses that take other essential workers to work.

These are our friends, our family, and our neighbors. These people are all safer when everyone else stays home as much as possible.

Minimize time outside your home. Maintain social distancing when you are outside. Practice healthy behaviors like washing your hands at all times. If there are people in your life at high risk, ask if there are ways you can help them like delivering food.

Our combined actions have great power. Together, we can slow the spread of COVID-19.

Lisa B. Hernandez, MD, MPH
City of Berkeley Health Officer


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