​​Public Health "Stay at Home" Order Frequently Asked Questions

Read full Sacramento County Pu​blic​​ ​Health ​O​r​der​ and Statewide Public Healt​h Officer Order (7-13-2020)

General Informat​​ion​​

Q. When does this Health Order become effective?

A. Upon Statewide Order by the California Department of Public Health and Governor Gavin Newsom​,  the Sacramento County Public Health Officer has amended the Public Health Order to limit indoor operations of certain sectors. The Order goes into effect July 14, at 3 p.m., and will be in effect until it is rescinded or amended by the Health Officer. The Health Order aligns with previous health orders, but supersedes those of March 19, April 7, May 1, May 26, June 12, June 19, June 29, and July 2. The Public Health Order continues to reinforce the direction that all individuals stay home as much as possible and carry on with social distancing and face covering protocols.  

Q. How long will the order last?

A. The Health Order that was revised on July 14​, 2020, is in effect until it is rescinded, or amended in writing by the Health Officer.

Q. What areas does this Order apply to?

A. This Order is in effect in all of Sacramento County.

Q. What does this order do?​​​​

A. This is a legal Order issued under the authority of California law. The Order requires that residents in Sacramento County are to continue 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. Sacramento County business sectors approved for Stage 2 reopening and have implemented the state’s reopening requirements, will be allowed to resume modified operations with social distancing protocols and wearing of face coverings in public spaces.

Q. What is new about the July 14, 2020 Order? 

A. Governor Gavin Newsom announced on July 13 that all counties on the State’s County Monitoring List for three consecutive days are required to shut down certain industries and activities unless they can be modified to operate outside or by pick-up. Sacramento County is on the Monitoring List, and the following industries/activities are to shut down unless they can operate outside/via pick-up: ​Fitness centers; Worship services; Protests; Offices for non-essential sectors; Personal care services, like nail salons, body waxing and tattoo parlors; Hair salons and barbershops; and Indoor Malls. ​This is in addition to the sectors that previously shut down indoor operations on July 2​: ​Restaurants, Wineries and Tasting Rooms, Movie Theaters, Family Entertainment Centers, Zoos and Museums, and Cardrooms. The intent of the order remains to ensure that the maximum number of people stay home as much as possible while enabling essential services to continue in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Sacramento County. The May 1 Public Health Order clarified some essential activities and allowable recreational activities from the previous Order. The June 29, June 19, June 12 and May 26​ Public Health Orders outlined the ​sectors that can reopen with modifications and restrictions. This Health Order is aligned with State guidelines, but where a conflict exists between this Order and any state public health order related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the most restrictive provision controls. 

The following summarizes the clarifications of previous Health Orders:

The July 2, 2020 Health Order limits the indoor operations of the following industries for a minimum of three weeks and until a new Public Health Order is issued:

  • Restaurants
  • Wineries and Tasting Rooms
  • Movie Theaters
  • Family Entertainment Centers
  • Zoos and Museums
  • Cardrooms​

Previously​, the summary of June 29, 2020 Health Order "Stage 3" new allowable activities and re-openings - removes bars. These are now allowable businesses listed in previous orders, with the restriction from the new, July 2 order.

  • Transportation: Full public transportation
  • Hospitality: Outdoor and take-out only restaurants; Bars, and Wineries; Hotels, Lodging, and Short-Term Rentals
  • Outdoor: Campgrounds, RV Parks, and Outdoor Recreation
  • Personal Care: Barbers and Hair Salons; Pet grooming; Nail salons, Tattoo parlors, Massage therapy, Waxing, Body art, Piercing
  • Retail: Micro enterprises retail; Shopping malls; General Retail; Car washes
  • Private Enterprise: Agricultural food and beverage cultivation, process and distribution open for retail by appointment only
  • Professional Services: Plumbers, electricians, exterminators; Arborists, landscapers, gardeners
  • Gyms, Fitness Studios: Fitness Facilities; Pools
  • Offices/workplaces: Reopen offices when telework is not possible
  • Child/Daycare: Child Care, Day Care and Family daycare
  • Religious/Cultural: Places of Worship-attendance limited to 25% of building capacity or a max of 100 attendees, whichever is lower; Drive-through religious services*
  • Entertainment: Outdoor operations only: Museums, Galleries, Zoos, and Aquariums; Family Entertainment Centers; Movie Theaters   
  • Large Outdoor Venues: Drive-through graduation ceremonies; Professional Sports without Live Audiences
  • Day Camps: Day Camps
  • Gambling: Tribal Casinos; Outdoor only Cardrooms, Satellite Wagering Facilities, and Racetracks

***Please note that organized youth sports are NOT currently permitted​​

Summary of May 22, 2020 Health Order Updates “Stage 2, Part A and B”​ with Revisions on May 26, 2020.

*All reopening is with modific​ations/restrictions for social distancing protocol – read the Health Order for details. 

    • ​Government: public lobbies may reopen 
    • Transportation: resume local public transportation
    • Hospitality: dine-in restaurants may operate
    • Healthcare: resume dental preventative care
    • Personal Care: car washes, pet grooming, hair salons/barber shops my operate
    • Retail: curbside pick-up, micro enterprise retail/storefront, and retail/shopping malls may operate
    • Offices/Workplace: reopen small offices when telework is not possible
    • Schools/Day Care: child care, day care and family day care may reopen
      • Intensify cleaning and disinfection efforts; Modify drop off/pick up procedures; symptom screening procedures upon arrival; and Maintain adequate staff/children ratio to ensure safety: (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schoolschildcare/guidance-for-childcare.html)
    • Religious/Cultural: allowed to provide drive-through religious services, and religious services at 25 percent of building's capacity up to 100 people  
    • ​Outdoor Venues: allowed to provide drive-through graduation ceremonies
      • Multiple skipped seats for 6ft distancing; Deep cleaning; Face coverings; prefer no cash; and frequently clean high-contact surfaces

Summary of May 1, 2020 Health Order Updates “Stage 1” ​

    • Essential Activities now allow for visiting a health care professional for medical or dent​a care for chronic conditions or preventive services.
    • Allowing non-contact recreational facilities and activities that include the use of shared equipment, including shooting and archery ranges, disc golf, tennis courts and boating, provided that activities are in conformance with social distancing requirements and appropriate disinfectant processes.
    • Contact sports or activities, including baseball/softball, ​basketball, football and soccer are prohibited outside of residences.
    • Healthcare providers and hospitals may reschedule appointments for care that was considered non-urgent and canceled when the Public Health Order was first issued. This includes elective procedures, preventive services such as immunizations and other care for chronic conditions. 
    • Residential viewings for rentals, leases and home sales are now allowable when the occupant is still residing in the residence. The requirement is still in place that the visit must be by appointment with no more than two visitors at a time residing within the same household or living unit and one individual showing the unit.
    • Food trucks have been added to Essential Businesses.

​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.  Currently, confirmed COVID-19 cases in the County, and deaths, are increasing. This Order is necessary to continue to slow the rate of spread and the Health Officer will re-evaluate it as further data becomes available.

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 as defined in the Order.

Q. What is  “social distancing”?

A.  Measures of social distancing includes personal hygiene by​ washing hands, using hand sanitizer, disinfecting surfaces, not going out if sick, and staying at least six feet away from others. Read the Public Health Order Face Covering FAQs.

Q. When do face coverings need to be worn?

The Sacramento County Public Health Order includes face coverings and should be worn any time social distancing of 6 feet or more is not possible – both indoors and outdoors. Additionally, face coverings should be worn in public places such as grocery stores and when using public transit or ride-sharing services. Drivers of any public transportation or paratransit vehicle, taxi, private car service or ride-share vehicle must wear a face covering at all times while operating the vehicle. Face coverings are not required for people driving alone or with other members of their household in a private vehicle. ​Read the Public Health Order Face Covering FAQs.​

​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. Those at high risk of severe illness and those who are sick are to stay in their residence to the extent possible.​

Q. What are “essential activities”?

A. Essential actives include:

  • To engage in activities or perform tasks essential to their health and safety, or for their family or household members (including, but not limited to, pets), such as, obtaining medical supplies or medication, visiting a health care professional for medical or dental care for chronic conditions or preventative services, 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, and with the following limitations.
    • ​Outdoor recreation activity at parks, trails and dog parks, including the American River Parkway and Deer Creek Hills, beaches, and other open spaces must use Social Distancing Requirements and the entity that manages such area is to reduce crowding, such as restricting the number of entrants, closing public access and parking; 
    • Non-contact recreational facilities and activities, that include the use of shared equipment, including, but not limited to, shooting and archery ranges, golf courses, disc golf, tennis courts, and boating must be in conformance with Social Distancing Requirements as defined in this Order and provide appropriate disinfectant processes; and any restrictions on access and use established by government or other entity that manages such area to reduce crowding and risk of transmission of COVID-19.  Such restrictions may include, but are not limited to, restricting the number of entrants, closing the area to vehicular access and parking, or closure to all public access;
    • Use of recreational facilities that encourage gathering, such as playgrounds and gyms, picnic/BBQ areas, climbing and rock parks, pools/spas is prohibited outside of residences, and shall be closed to public access with signage and physical barriers, as appropriate; and 
    • Contact sports or such activities are prohibited outside of residences, including baseball/softball, ​basketball, football and soccer.​
  • 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 who has no other sources of care.
  • To attend a funeral with no more than 10 individuals present.
  • To move residences, but only if is not possible to defer an already planned move, or is for safety or to preserve access to shelter. 

*NOTE: Where a conflict exists between this Order and any state public health order related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the most restrictive provision controls​. ​

Q. When may I leave my residence?
A. Individuals may leave their residence for the following:
  • ​To work for, volunteer at, or obtain services at “Healthcare Operations,” such as hospitals, blood drives, healthcare suppliers, mental health providers, and veterinary care. Excluded are fitness and exercise gyms and similar. 
  • Healthcare providers and hospitals may begin to reschedule appointments for care that was considered non-urgent and was therefore canceled when the stay-at-home order was first issued – to include elective procedures, preventive services such as immunizations, and other care for chronic conditions. Healthcare providers must take precautions to minimize the risk of COVID-19 infection by adopting comprehensive safety protocols following the guidelines from the California Medical Association.
  • To provide/perform operation and maintenance of “Essential Infrastructure,” with social distancing such as, construction, utilities/water/sanitation, roads, public transportation, and web/IT/telecom systems
  • Exempt from the Order to perform essential services are all first responders, emergency management personnel, and law enforcement personnel.
  • To perform or access “Essential Government Functions,” and performed with social distancing to the extent possible.
​Q. Can I bring my reusable items such as shopping bags to a grocery store or a water thermos or travel mug for refills at a convenience market?
A. As of June 29, 2020 - reusable shopping bags are now permitted for use in Sacramento County​. 

Business​ ​

Q. What is considered a business?

A.  A “business” includes any for-profit, non-profit, or educational entity, whether a corporate entity, organization, partnership or sole proprietorship, and regardless of the service, function or its corporate or entity structure.​

Q. What do ​​Businesses need to prepare for Social Distancing?

A. For each facility frequented by the public or employees, prepare a substantive Social Dista​ncing Protocol and provided to each employee performing work at the facility. The protocol should address limiting the number of people to ensure six-foot distance around each person such as marking increments where lines form, provide hand sanitizer, soap and water near entrance and high-frequency interaction areas for the public and employees, provide contactless payment systems or disinfect touched surfaces, regularly disinfect other high-touch surfaces and post signs at the entrance to not enter if sick with cough or fever, maintain six foot distance from others, sneeze or cough into sleeve, do not shake hands or have unnecessary physical contact. Read Face Coverings FAQs. Check sector-specific guidance from the State: https://covid19.ca.gov/industry-guidance/​

Q. I operate a food facility – what practices should I follow to keep my patrons safe?

A. Follow the best practices for allowable food facility operations. The National Restaurant Association has a great resource page. Consult the Sacramento County Environmental Management Department’s website​ for additional up to date information. Read face coverings FAQs. Check sector-specific guidance from the State: https://covid19.ca.gov/industry-guidance/​​

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

A. If they provide essential services 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.

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. ​Check sector-specific guidance from the State: https://covid19.ca.gov/industry-guida​nce/​​​​

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

A. If you are experiencing a sewer problem—like a slow drain or a backup—call the Sacramento Area Sewer District (SASD) first at 916-875-6730. As an essential service provider, SASD provides 24/7 service every day of the year and will dispatch a skilled technician to assess the problem and help you figure out the next step.​

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.  


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.” 

Q. What does Essential Travel mean?

A. You may travel to: care for elderly, minors or persons with disabilities; pick up educational materials for distance learning or meals at educational institutions; manage after-death arrangements and burial; arrange for shelter; avoid abuse; seek shelter due to COVID-19 exposure; and return to residence outside of the County. You may also travel if it is required by law enforcement, court order or parental custody arrangements.

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

A. The Order requires that you remain in your place of residence. If you leave Sacramento 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 is allowed to operate. People riding public transit must comply with Social Distancing and Face Covering Requirements​


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

Restaurants, cafes, food trucks, and similar establishments may remain open to supply meals so long as social distancing protocols are met. 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?  

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 be eaten on the premises so long as social distancing protocols are met.  

Q. What food assistance programs are available to pregnant women, new moms and children age 0-5?

A. The Women, Infants & Children program quickly assists pregnant women and new moms of children 0-5 years old in purchasing nourishing food. Find out about eligibility and access benefits by calling, 916-876-5000 and WIC staff will answer your questions. Or, use your internet browser to search “Sacramento County WIC" to apply online at any time.


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.  

Q. Can I visit a health care professional for medical or dental care for chronic conditions or preventive services?

A. Yes. Healthcare/dental providers and hospitals may schedule appointments for care that was considered non-urgent when the Public Health Order was first issued. This includes elective procedures, preventive services such as immunizations and other care for chronic conditions.​


Q. What if I see a bar, restaurant with dine-in customers or other non-essential businesses operating not in compliance with the current Health Order in Sacramento County?

A. The intent of the Public Health Order is to ensure that the maximum number of people self-isolate in their places of residence to the maximum extent feasible, while implementing social distancing protocols to slow the spread of COVID-19 to the maximum extent possible. To report a violation of the Public Health Officer Order, call 311.

The Public Health Order directs that there should not be gatherings in any formal setting – please, see below. To report a violation of the Public Health Officer Order, call 3-1-1. ​

Visit the website for COVID-19 information and the Sacramento County Public Health Order: www.saccounty.net/COVID-19