Update, Tuesday, 1:20 p.m. The new order, released mid-day Tuesday, extends shelter-in-place rules until May 3, not May 1 as previously announced. The order includes new restrictions on construction and recreation.
Original story, Monday: The current Bay Area-wide “shelter-in-place” order will be extended until at least May 1 in Berkeley and six counties including Alameda, health officials announced Monday afternoon.
Details are scant in the joint statement, which says the order will be finalized and officially issued by Wednesday.
The news follows media reports that an extension of the three-week March 16 order was in the works. As the novel coronavirus continues to spread throughout the Bay Area, many residents have assumed that they would be directed to continue staying at home and only be allowed to leave for “essential” work and activities like grocery shopping.
“Health officers have said an extension might be expected as we work together to slow the spread of the COVID-19 disease,” the statement says.
While hospitals have not been overwhelmed as they have in COVID-19 hotbeds like New York City and Italy, officials have warned that a surge in cases might still be coming.
Lab-confirmed coronavirus cases have continued to climb in Berkeley, with 19 cases reported Monday compared to 16 on Friday. In Alameda County, there are 264 confirmed cases and there have been seven deaths reported from the disease. (Berkeley has its own health department, so the county numbers do not include the city’s cases.)
However, those figures are widely understood to be dramatically lower than the actual number of coronavirus cases locally, because of a shortage of tests, guidelines advising many people they don’t need to be tested, and because those infected might not show symptoms or realize they have the virus. Local and state health officials have continued to say the best way to slow the spread is to stay home as much as possible.
Bay Area health officials had already extended school closures until at least May 1.
Since the initial shelter-in-place order was issued, some local and regional rules have changed in response. Berkeley has stopped enforcing some parking restrictions, and the East Bay Regional Park District closed parking lots at some popular parks that were becoming overcrowded.
Berkeleyside will report on the details of the new order when they are available.