Business Reopening Guide

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Am I allowed to reopen my business? 

(updated 9/17/20)

The best way to determine if your business is allowed to reopen is to check the latest public health order issued by the Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD). 

Current Alameda County Health Orders

Please click here for the latest public health order, which was revised on September 2 to allow and/or clarify the following:

  • Indoor hair salons and barber shops may open on September 4. Hair salons and barber shops may also continue to operate outdoors. Nail salons, waxing services, skin care and non-medical massages are currently only allowed to open outdoors.  This order exclude services that may require a client to remove their face covering, as well as eyebrow threading and waxing and eyelash treatments, tattoos, piercings and electrolysis. 
  • All indoor retail must limit capacity to a maximum of 25%, except for grocery stores, which must limit capacity to a maximum of 50%.
  • Outdoor dance classes may now resume as part of outdoor non-contact fitness classes, and outdoor mini-golf, batting cages, driving ranges, and kart racing may resume as allowed by the State’s Family Entertainment Center Guidance. Shared play structures continue to be closed, including bounce houses, ball pits and playgrounds.

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?

As of June 29th, reopening plans in Alameda County have been paused, due to recent increases in COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates in our county and region.  Please click here for more information, including the data indicators that ACPHD uses to determine the timeline for reopening.

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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. 

Please click here to download reopening guidance for hair salons and barber shops.

Please click here to download reopening guidance for outdoor nail, skin care, waxing, and non medical massage services in Alameda County. 

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. Contact the COVID Workplace team at COVIDWorkplace@acgov.org or call (510) 268-2101 to submit a case report and for guidance and next steps. 

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.

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 see page 4 of 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 see page 2 of 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.