Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Baylands Ranger wears a mask  

We are in this together. The City encourages the community to stay informed, practice good hygiene, be aware, and be prepared. As a community we can continue to slow the spread of COVID-19 by using recommended best practices.

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What's New

View the most recent Coronavirus Report

March 24, 2021 Update: Santa Clara County Moves to the Orange Tier

Santa Clara County has moved into the Orange Tier of California's Blueprint for a Safer Economy effective Wednesday, March 24. The orange "moderate risk" tier is less restrictive than the red "substantial risk" or purple "widespread risk" tiers and allows for additional activities.

What changes under the Orange Tier?

All activities authorized under the State’s Orange Tier, including indoor dining and retail, can resume in accordance with State capacity limits and safety protocols, including:

  • Indoor dining at maximum 50% capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer;
  • Retail stores at 100% capacity;
  • Shopping centers at 100% capacity;
  • Gyms and fitness centers at maximum 25% capacity (indoor pools allowed);
  • Movie theaters at maximum 50% capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer;  
  • Zoos, museums, and aquariums at maximum 50% indoor capacity;
  • Wineries, breweries, and distilleries at maximum 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer;
  • Offices (businesses are required to maximize telework);
  • Family entertainment centers (for naturally distanced activities) at maximum 25% capacity;
  • Cardrooms, satellite wagering at maximum 25% capacity;
  • Places of worship at maximum 50% capacity.

The following activities are allowed outdoors only:

  • Bars where no meal is provided;
  • Amusement parks at maximum 25% capacity of 500 people, whichever is fewer. (Effective April 1: indoor capacity maximum 25% capacity with time restrictions)

In addition, sector and activity-specific local directives is no longer be in effect, and the Mandatory Directive on Travel is no longer be in effect.

Why is it important to continue safe practices even if there are more allowed activities?

Although more activities are allowed under the Orange Tier, the County Health Officer urges everyone to remember that indoor activities are much higher risk than outdoor activities and to take every step to reduce your risk as much as possible. While COVID-19 infection rates are slightly decreasing in Santa Clara County, they are rising across the U.S.

To prevent a fourth surge and to keep yourself, your family, your friends and neighbors, and our broader community safe, follow these core principles:

  1. Stay outdoors. Outdoor activities are far safer than indoor ones.
  2. Stay masked. Consistent use of face coverings both indoors and outdoors, especially double-masking, is very effective at preventing spread of the coronavirus.
  3. Maintain at least 6-foot distance from others. Social distancing from those who do not live with you is effective at keeping the coronavirus away.
  4. Avoid crowds. The fewer people you encounter and the fewer interactions you have, the lower the chance the virus will spread.
  5. Get vaccinated when it is your turn. All federally approved vaccines work well and will help keep you, your family, and your friends safe. 

A frequently asked question is whether or not fully vaccinated people need to wear a mask. The answer is yes, fully vaccinated people should continue to wear a mask and continue to perform other safety precautions. The CDC has put out further guidance. See the CDC's "Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People."

For more information on what the State allows in the Orange Tier, please visit covid19.ca.gov.



Testing Availability

There are several testing locations in Palo Alto, with new sites being added. Santa Clara County offers COVID-19 testing that is free, easy, and safe at more than 50 sites across the county. There are many choices to meet your needs, including drive-thru, walk-up, and bike lane options. Find testing options near you.

Wear a Face Covering

Face coverings are required in Palo Alto when out in public. Wearing a mask or cloth face covering can slow the spread of COVID-19 by limiting the release of virus into the air. It also reinforces physical distancing, and shows you care about the health of others.

Wearing a cloth face covering doesn’t take the place of physical distancing. It is effective when combined with keeping a 6-foot distance from others.

Use and care: Wear a clean mask every time you go out. Wash in the laundry or by hand between uses. See more mask care instructions from the California Department of Public Health.

Where to find: Many online sellers now offer masks in a variety of materials. You can also make your own. Read how in this cloth mask guidance from the CDC.

Improve How Your Mask Protects You: The CDC provides guidance on how to improve the way your mask protects you. This includes making sure your mask snugly fits your face, consider wearing two masks, and what to avoid. Read this CDC article discussing the science behind "double masking."

Exceptions

  • Any child aged two years or less because of the risk of suffocation.
  • Driving alone, or exclusively with other members of the same family or household, in a motor vehicle.
  • A person that can show either: (1) a medical professional has advised that wearing a face covering may pose a risk to the person wearing it for health-related reasons. (2) Wearing a face covering would create risk to the person related to their work as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.

In general, even when not required, people are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings when in public. Read the emergency order for the full list of exceptions.

 


Helpful Resources

Utility Rate Deferred Payment Plans

Palo Alto utility rate relief is available to both residential and commercial customers. The City’s proclamation of a local emergency instituted moratoriums on disconnections for non-payment, late payment fees, and full-bill payment requirements for City of Palo Alto Utilities residential customers. Customers can make partial payments, without penalty, and without risk of disconnection for non-payment. The total of missed payments (except Late Fees, which will be waived in their entirety) will continue to be owed, but customers will be eligible for an extended payment plan of up to 18 months from the proclamation termination.

If you are struggling to pay your utilities bills, you may qualify for our Rate Assistance Program, which provides a 25% discount on gas and electricity charges and a 20% discount on storm drain service fees. If you qualify for the Rate Assistance Program, you will also be able to receive free home efficiency upgrades through our Residential Energy Assistance Program.  You can equalize your monthly payment into twelve equal amounts through the Bill Payment Plan. Through ProjectPLEDGE, Utilities customers in good standing with their own accounts may donate funding on a one-time or recurring basis to help another Utilities customer. If you are in need of financial support, you may apply for one-time assistance. You may also donate if you would like to support this program.  Customers seeking further information or needing assistance can call (650) 329–2161. Utilities Customer Service can help with questions associated with these programs. Customer support is available through the call center, online customer account service at https://mycpau.cityofpaloalto.org/portal/, or email at UtilitiesCustomerService@cityofpaloalto.org

Moratorium on Evictions

With State, County, and City of Palo Alto bans on evictions, we are here to connect you with information and maybe help keep you feeling connected with our broader community too. The Palo Alto City Council extended our City ban on residential evictions, during the health emergency, for tenants who can’t pay their rent for reasons related to COVID-19. Residential tenants are also protected from eviction by an ordinance passed by Santa Clara County, and an Executive Order issued by Governor Newsom. The County ordinance also protects other types of tenants – including businesses, non-profits, and other organizations – from eviction during the health emergency if they can’t pay all or part of their rent for reasons related to COVID-19, provided that they qualify as small businesses under the rules of Small Business Administration. Read more about the countywide eviction moratorium.

How to Keep a Sense of Normalcy

It's important to keep a sense of normalcy during this time of heightened public health risk.

Subscribe to the Coronavirus Report for more tips on how to stay well during this time.

Stay Informed

Follow the City on social media, and subscribe to the Coronavirus Report. Continue to visit cityofpaloalto.org/coronavirus for the latest news and resources to stay connected on this issue.

Create an emergency preparedness kit and plan.

Helpful links to stay informed