Business Reopening Guide

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Am I allowed to reopen my business? 

(updated 11/17/20)

Please click here for a complete list of businesses which are allowed to reopen in Alameda County at this time. 

Current Alameda County Health Orders

Please click here for the latest public health order. As of November 16, the state of California has placed Alameda County in the Purple Tier of the state's reopening framework.  This means:

  • Effective at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, November 18, all activities and sectors must conform to the State’s requirements for counties in the Purple Tier.
  • Per State requirements, any activity that was only permitted in the Red or Orange Tier will need to close, effective Wednesday, November 18. A list of permitted activities is available for to download at this link. Major changes include: 
    • Restaurants can operate outdoors only
    • Indoor retail is limited to 25% capacity
    • Movie theaters can operate outdoors only
    • Gyms and fitness centers can operate outdoors only
  • Alameda County will provide additional guidance to local restaurants in the coming days on how to continue operating outdoors safely as the weather changes. Current guidance is available at this link.

As the situation develops, activities may be further restricted to slow the spread of the virus. 

Note: Current public health orders prohibit entertainment events as part of outdoor dining, including live DJs, music and dance. Non-live music can be played over speakers, but the volume must be adjusted where staff can maintain distance and hear orders.  

Please click here for a complete list of businesses which are allowed to reopen in Alameda County at this time.

For more information, visit ACPH's Shelter In Place website.

Questions about whether your business is permitted to open?  Please email COVIDRecovery@acgov.org.

State of California Blueprint for Safer Economy

On August 28, 2020, the State released its Blueprint for a Safer Economy, which replaces the monitoring list that was being used to identify when businesses are allowed to reopen. The new plan places counties into four different risk level categories, and includes guidelines for what types of activities are able to reopen at each risk level. However, it is important to remember that when two orders conflict, the stricter order applies

All photographs in this guide are by Maurice Ramirez

My business is not currently allowed to operate - when can I re-open?

Alameda County is currently on the Purple Tier of the State’s color-coded four-tier Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The most recent wave of new infections in Alameda County and across the state appear to be growing even faster than what we experienced in the summer. We must take steps now to limit opportunities for people to mix and gather, especially indoors without masks, to avoid overwhelming our health care system, limit severe disease and death due to COVID-19, and protect frontline workers and medically vulnerable residents.

Prior experiences with surges in the Bay Area and around the world have demonstrated that limiting activities and gatherings, along with wearing face coverings, can flatten the curve. Acting quickly  and aggressively will help us save lives. The Local Health Officer may act to restrict activities more than the State’s requirements in order to respond to local disease conditions and protect public health.

Please click here for more information, including the data indicators that ACPHD uses to determine the timeline for reopening. 

What are the rules for reopening?

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The Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD) provides specific reopening requirements for businesses within their public health orders.  Please click here for the current public health order to learn the complete requirements for your business.  Appendix C of the current health order provides specific reopening guidance for many businesses.

All businesses must implement a Site Specific Protection Plan while operating - please click here to find guidance and a template for creating your own Site Specific Protection Plan. 

Reopening guidance for hair salons, barber shops and nail salons is available in EnglishVietnamese(PDF, 351KB) and Chinese(PDF, 591KB). 

Please click here to view Alameda County's Business Recovery website, which includes more detailed information for Retail, Outdoor Dining, and other sectors. 

COVID-19 Infection Reporting: Businesses are required to notify the Alameda County Public Health Department of all positive COVID-19 cases.

In accordance with California State COVID-19 reporting requirements, please use the COVID Workplace Case and Contact Reporting Form to report a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case in the workplace, and any associated close contacts. For questions related to positive employees in the workplace, please contact the COVID Workplace Response Team at COVIDworkplace@acgov.org. 

Download the State of California's Employer Playbook to learn more about to reopen safely.

Not Yet Permitted to Operate?  You Can Still Prepare for Future Reopening

20200504-172534_MauriceRamirezPhoto.jpg If your business is not yet permitted to open, you can still begin preparations by reviewing guidelines from the State of California and industry associations.

State Guidelines for Specific Industries

As part of their Blueprint for a Safer Economy, the State of California has created industry guidance to help Californians prepare for the reopening of our economy. Even if not yet permitted to operate in Alameda County, many businesses may find these industry guidelines helpful as they plan for re-opening. 

Note: The State of California is at a more advanced phase of reopening than Alameda County. Not all of the businesses listed in the Blueprint for a Safer Economy are currently permitted to operate in Alameda County.  Where there are differences between the local Health Officer’s order and the State’s order, the stricter restrictions apply

Guidance from Industry Associations

Please click here for a list of reopening guidance from a variety of industry associations.

How can I operate successfully under new guidelines?

20200504-153406_MauriceRamirezPhoto.jpg The Downtown Alameda Business Association and the Alameda Chamber of Commerce have posted helpful guides to assist businesses in making their reopening as successful as possible. 

Resources for Reopening Businesses

  • #ShopSafeShopLocal: The State of California's #ShopSafeShopLocal website provides a range of resources for businesses as they reopen, including digital marketing materials, and assistance in accessed personal protective equipment. 
  • Business Counselling: Alameda businesses can apply for personalized business counselling through East Bay Score (510-273-6611 or info@eastbayscore.org) or the Alameda County SBDC.  Experienced business counselors can help you address a number of issues in the wake of COVID-19, from rethinking your marketing strategy to revising your business plan.

What are the rules about sidewalk dining, expanded hours, and other changes to support businesses?

  • Commercial Streets Program: The Commercial Streets program streamlines the permit approval process for businesses to expand dining and retail space to accommodate social distancing requirements.  This includes:
    • Usage of Sidewalks and Parklets
    • Use of Private Parking and Outdoor Space
    • Repurposing of Park and Webster Streets
    • Curbside pick-up parking 

    Please click here to learn more about the program, including requirements and application information.

  • Food-related businesses can stay open later: The City of Alameda has implemented emergency zoning changes to extend business hours for food related services and to make curbside pickup easier. The changes allow food-related businesses to sell to-go alcoholic beverages and to stay open until 2am.  Businesses must notify the City via email (permits@alamedaca.gov) if they would like to make this change.  
  • Commercial establishments can sell food and other essential goods: Restaurants and other commercial uses are allowed to temporarily sell food and other essential goods.  Businesses must notify the City via email (permits@alamedaca.gov) if they would like to make this change.
  • Businesses can use A-frame signs and temporary banners to advertise extended hours, additional food sales and availability of other essential goods.   Zoning regulations limiting temporary banners and A-Frame signs are suspended to allow businesses the opportunity to notify the public of extended hours, additional food sales and availability of other essential goods. To support safe movement of people walking, you must maintain 6 feet of sidewalk clearance, or 8 feet if on Park or Webster Streets. Businesses must notify permits@alamedaca.gov if they would like to display this type of signage, indicating the name and address of the business and types of temporary signs to be installed.
  • Updated Regulations Around Alcoholic Beverages: The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has issued several notices of regulatory relief  to assist businesses impacted by COVID-19.  These notices address a range of issues including to-go and delivery cocktails, outdoor alcohol consumption, and the creation of hand sanitizers by distilleries. Please click here for more information, including important details about eligible license types, packaging, and other requirements. 

How can I promote my business?

20200505-174807_MauriceRamirezPhoto.jpg The City of Alameda has launched What's Open Alameda? to help local business share updated hours, specials, COVID-19 safety measures, and any other information you would like to give your customers. This user-friendly directory is available to all Alameda businesses that are open during the COVID-19 pandemic - please click here to view.

Here's how to make the most of What's Open Alameda:

  1. Visit & Verify: Please visit the site to make sure your business is listed and that the information is up to date.
  2. Add & Edit: If your business is not listed, or if the listing needs to be updated, you can do so right in the directory. 
    • To add a listing, click on the "+List my Business" button in the upper right hand corner of the directory.
    • To edit an existing listing, navigate to the current listing, and click the "Edit" button in the upper right hand corner of the listing.
    • Add your email address: Make sure to add your email address to your listing. This will make sure you get all future notifications about the directory.
  3. Update regularly!: As new public health guidance is issued, update your business information regularly to reflect any changes to hours or operations. 

Please email econdev@alamedaca.gov if you have any questions about the directory.

Spend Local Alameda

The City of Alameda, in partnership with the Downtown, West and Greater Alameda Business Associations, and the Alameda Chamber of Commerce, is launching a Spend Local campaign for the 2020 holiday season.  Please click here for more information, and to participate!

Information for Restaurants

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Currently Permitted

Restaurants are currently allowed to serve and prepare food for take-out, delivery, and outdoor dining.

Please Appendix C for complete guidance on outdoor dining.

Note: Current public health orders prohibit entertainment events as part of outdoor dining, including live DJs, music and dance. Non-live music can be played over speakers, but the volume must be adjusted where staff can maintain distance and hear orders.   

All outdoor dining must comply with the COVID-19 Industry Guidance issued by the State of California.

In addition, all restaurants must comply with the Alameda County Department of Environmental Health (ACDEH) Restaurant Operating Procedures. Note: Major changes to food service operations, such as addition of dining areas, may require advance approval from ACDEH. Contact your inspector to discuss proposed changes. 

 All businesses must implement a Site Specific Protection Plan while operating - please click here to find guidance and a template for creating your own Site Specific Protection Plan. 

Changes to Public Space, Rules and Regulations to Support Restaurants

Curious about sidewalk dining, street closures, and other opportunities increase your dining capacity? Please click here to view changes that are being made to public space and government regulations to support restaurants and other businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additional Reopening Guidance for Restaurants

Information for Retailers

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Indoor and outdoor retail is currently permitted, with the following conditions:

  • Starting Monday, August 31, all indoor retail must limit capacity to a maximum of 25%, except for grocery stores, which must limit capacity to a maximum of 50%. 
  • Stores may move goods outside for display or sales if local permits allow
  • ACPHD recommends continuing curbside and delivery services as much as possible

Please Appendix C for complete guidance for retail businesses.

In addition, all retail businesses must comply with the Retail Industry Guidance issued by the State of California.

All businesses must implement a Site Specific Protection Plan while operating - please click here to find guidance and a template for creating your own Site Specific Protection Plan. 

Changes to Public Space, Rules and Regulations to Support Retail Businesses

Curious about sidewalk retail, expanded hours, signage, and other opportunities increase your customer capacity? Please click here to view changes that are being made to public space and government regulations to support restaurants and other businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Where can I find additional resources for Alameda businesses?

Please visit our Business Resources page for information about a variety of state, local and federal programs that may help businesses with the impacts of COVID-19.