3 counties branch off from strict Bay Area stay-at-home order, changes to come Monday

SAN MATEO COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Three Bay Area counties will break-off from the region's strict stay-at-home orders, joining much of the state by Monday.

Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties will be easing into Stage 2, or Phase 2.

RELATED: Only 18 counties in California given green light to reopen schools, restaurants and malls

On Wednesday, ABC7 News ventured out to learn how the changes would impact businesses across San Mateo County.

"We can't keep it in stock," William Fields told ABC7 News, as he handed over the board game "Pandemic."

Ironic, as the COVID-19 pandemic has been far from anyone's idea of fun.

Fields is the owner of Anime Imports in Pacifica, where business is down 93-percent because of the virus.

"We were looking at the possibility of whether there'd be bankruptcy," Fields explained. "How long will this go?"

Fields had to furlough his staff, but recently received assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program.

His employees were back on Wednesday, but Fields admitted it still isn't business as usual.

RELATED: Some Bay Area counties could start implementing 'Phase 2' as early as next week, officials say

"Wednesday's are actually one of our biggest days normally, because that's when the new books and everything comes out. So, we generally have people coming out the entire day," he explained.

His store is also used as an event space. Surrounded by comics, games and collectibles, crowds gather to compete in card games and board game demos.

Fields said several pre-release events have been impacted, hurting businesses in a major way.

Fortunately, Monday could bring more customers, as San Mateo County joins others in branching off from the Bay Area's strict stay-at-home order.

County Health Officer, Dr. Scott Morrow, announced San Mateo would be easing into Stage 2 with the rest of California.

"Effective on May 18, that would bring San Mateo County in line with the early Phase 2 guidelines of the governor's Resilience Roadmap," a release by Dr. Morrow read.

RELATED: Majority of San Francisco retail businesses to reopen Monday for curbside, delivery sales, mayor says

"I want to remind everyone these modifications are not being made because it is safe to be out and about. The virus continues to circulate in our community, and this increase in interactions among people is likely to spread the virus at a higher rate," Morrow wrote.

"We're going to go ahead and start pick-up, but we'll make sure that we keep our door closed," Air Lollipops owner, Maria Carson said. "I have signs that show they can give us a call when we're outside, and we'll put the balloons outside for them to pick-up."

Carson said she would've properly celebrated 10 years in business, in April. However, the pandemic forced her to shut her doors and rely on no-contact delivery only.

"It's hard. You kind of get nervous. Like, how are you going to provide for your family? But also, it's kind of like, your safety too," Carson said. "So, we're taking our precautions very seriously."

New orders in effect Monday will allow retailers like Carson to offer curbside and delivery.

"Graduation is one of our busiest seasons," she explained. "So, it's great news. We're just taking precautions."

Logistics and manufacturing, along with some other businesses, can open with modifications- according to Dr. Morrow.

"Whether these modifications allow the virus to spread out of control, as we saw in February and March and resulted in the first shelter in place order, is yet to be seen," he wrote.

RELATED: California superintendent suggests staggered reopening of schools

County Supervisor David Canepa agreed, it's time.

"If we see a surge, we may have to take that step back, but if we see that people are social distancing, they're wearing masks and it's working, then we're able to look at the next progression," Supervisor Canepa told ABC7 News.

He said actions by the county have worked, and now it's time to gradually open up business.

"We've flattened the curve. We've sheltered in place. We've done all these things," he said. "Is it going to bring sales back? Is it going to bring them back to pre-pandemic? No. But it's going to help them go from zero to at least something."

The move is a big change from the strict, six-county collective order that has kept the Bay Area sheltering-in-place since March.

On Tuesday, Santa Clara County Public Health Officer, Dr. Sara Cody announced the Bay Area's hardest hit county would not be easing restrictions.

"The conditions really haven't changed in our county. We don't have, we don't suddenly have herd immunity, we don't suddenly have a vaccine, we have exactly the same conditions that we had in March. So that if we did ease up we would see a brisk return of cases, hospitalizations, and a brisk return of deaths," Dr. Cody explained to the Board of Supervisors.

Canepa shared his take, "Everyone thinks that they have answers and solutions. We're all learning. So, let's contrast what we're doing to the State of Georgia, or other states- some of them are just opening! So, we're trying to take a responsible approach."

Dr. Morrow made clear, "The social distancing and face covering directives, along with the prohibition on gathering, will remain in place since the risk of exposure to COVID-19 looms large for all of us. The public and open businesses need to fully do their part to minimize transmission of the virus."

He's expected to release the local health order, in line with the state order, later this week.

If you have a question or comment about the coronavirus pandemic, submit yours via the form below or here.
Get the latest news, information and videos about the novel coronavirus pandemic here

RELATED STORIES & VIDEOS:
Copyright © 2020 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.