All individuals living in the State of California are currently ordered to stay home or at their place of residence, except for permitted work, local shopping or other permitted errands, or as otherwise authorized (including in the Questions & Answers below).
On May 4, 2020, an Executive Order (PDF) informed local health jurisdictions and industry sectors that they may gradually reopen under new modifications and guidance provided by the state per the May 7, 2020 Public Health Order (PDF).
Questions and answers
The Governor has ordered Californians to obey the directives of the State Public Health Officer. Those directives take many forms; they include specific materials linked on this page, as well as these questions and answers. These questions and answers are directives from the State Public Health Officer, and have the same force and effect as other State Public Health Officer directives.
The order went into effect on Thursday, March 19, 2020. The order is in place until further notice. It covers the whole state of California.
As of May 8, the stay home order was modified. In addition to essential activity, retail is allowed, along with the infrastructure to support it. As of May 12, offices, limited services, and outdoor museums are also permitted to open.
Essential services that protect public health, public safety, and provide essential needs will remain open, such as:
- Gas stations
- Food: Grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, take-out and delivery restaurants
- Laundromats/laundry services
- Essential state and local government functions will also remain open, including law enforcement and offices that provide government programs and services.
Retailers can open statewide. All will require modifications to support social distancing. This includes:
- Shopping malls (outdoor)
- Drive-in theaters (with modifications)
- Jewelry stores
- Toy stores
- Clothing and shoe stores
- Home and furnishing stores
- Sporting goods stores
Offices (critical infrastructure indoors and outdoors; non-critical infrastructure outdoor only)
Limited services which do not generally require close customer contact, such as:
- Pet grooming
- Dog walking
- Car washes
- Appliance repair
- Residential and janitorial cleaning
- Limited services for places of worship
Music, film, and TV production
Professional sports (without live audiences)
Schools and day camps
Statewide, the following are closed:
- Bars, brewpubs, breweries, and pubs, both indoors and outdoors, unless they are offering sit-down, outdoor dine-in meals. Alcohol can only be sold in the same transaction as a meal.
- Public events and gatherings, like live audience sports
- Convention centers
- Theme parks and festivals
- Higher education (in person), except where supporting essential workforce activities, including but not limited to providing housing solutions, COVID-19 response, and training and instruction for the essential workforce.
- Indoor playgrounds, like bounce centers, ball pits and laser tag
- Saunas and steam rooms
- Recreational team sports
Statewide, the following must close indoor operations:
- Dine-in restaurants
- Wineries and tasting rooms
- Movie theaters
- Family entertainment centers
- Zoos and museums
The following may open only in counties approved to move further in the Resilience Roadmap:
- Hotels (for tourism and individual travel)
- Campgrounds and outdoor recreation
Counties that have remained on the County Monitoring List for 3 or more consecutive days are required to close some industries. The closures will apply for a minimum of three weeks and are subject to an extension based on epidemiologic indicators.
The following sectors must close indoor operations and activities unless they can be modified to operate outside or by pick-up:
- Fitness centers
- Worship services
- Offices for non-essential infrastructure sectors
- Personal care services, like nail salons, body waxing and tattoo parlors
- Hair salons and barbershops
- Shopping malls
The risk of COVID-19 infection is still real for all Californians and continues to be fatal. That is why every business permitted to open should take every step humanly possible to reduce the risk of infection by following these state guidelines.
Yes. The State Public Health Officer may issue new orders as the public health situation changes.
This is a statewide order. Counties may move further into the Resilience Roadmap if they meet certain criteria.
Yes. As described in more detail elsewhere in applicable state public health directives (including on this page), there are a wide range of circumstances in which you may leave your home or other place of residence, even if you are not an Essential Critical Infrastructure Worker. For example, you may leave your home to work at any business or other entity that is allowed to open, to engage in in-person worship and protest activities consistent with public health directives, to patronize local businesses, or to care for friends or family members who require assistance (as set forth under Health care). And errands like these are not the only reasons you may leave your home: you may also leave your home with or without a specific destination in mind (for example, to walk your dog, to engage in physical recreation, or simply to get some fresh air) as long as you maintain physical distancing and comply with any other applicable public health directives.
State public health directives prohibit professional, social and community gatherings. Gatherings are defined as meetings or other events that bring together persons from multiple households at the same time for a shared or group experience in a single room, space, or place such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall, or other indoor or outdoor space. They pose an especially high danger of transmission and spread of COVID-19.
On May 25, 2020, in an effort to balance First Amendment interests with public health, the State Public Health Officer created an exception to the prohibition against mass gatherings for faith-based services and cultural ceremonies as well as protests. Those types of gatherings are now permitted indoors so long as they do not exceed 100 attendees or 25% of the capacity of the space in which the gathering is held, whichever is lower. State public health directives now do not prohibit in-person outdoor faith-based services or protests as long as face coverings are worn and physical distancing of 6 feet between persons or groups of persons from different households is maintained at all times. All other gatherings are prohibited until further notice, except as otherwise specifically permitted in state public health directives (including in applicable industry guidance).
Crowds and limited physical distancing increase the risk for COVID-19. If you attended a protest, remember that confidential, free testing is available. Find a testing location near you. If you test negative it does not mean that you may not develop COVID-19 later on. Therefore, it is advisable that you self-isolate for 14 days if possible.
There are many ways for you to express your political views without holding a physical, in-person gathering. For example, you may continue to call or write elected officials, write letters to the editor of news publications, display lawn or window signs, or use online and other electronic media (including Zoom rooms, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, and other digital forums) to express your views.
Additionally, as noted above, you may leave your home for any reason as long as you comply with any other applicable public health directives. When you are otherwise out in public, public health directives do not prevent you from engaging in political expression—such as by wearing or carrying a sign.
If collective action in physical space is important to you, consider whether you and other participants can safely protest from within your cars. The State Public Health Officer does not consider in-car activities to be gatherings, if participants stay in their cars and otherwise remain apart from individuals who are not part of their households. Many activists have organized car-based protests (honking horns, flying flags, displaying signs, and so on) to express their political views while complying with State public health directives.
Whenever you are considering a protest (including an in-car protest), make sure you comply with all other applicable laws, including any local public-health measures that may be more restrictive than statewide directives and any other applicable local laws.
If you do wish to engage in in-person protest outside of your car with a group of any size, you must follow the guidelines for political protest gatherings below.
Yes, although in-person protests present special public health concerns.
Even with adherence to physical distancing, bringing members of different households together to engage in in-person protest carries a higher risk of widespread transmission of COVID-19. Such gatherings may result in increased rates of infection, hospitalization, and death, especially among more vulnerable populations. In particular, activities like chanting, shouting, singing, and group recitation negate the risk-reduction achieved through 6 feet of physical distancing. For this reason, people engaging in these activities should wear face coverings at all times.
Therefore, it is strongly recommended that those exercising their right to engage in political expression (including, for example, their right to petition the government) should utilize alternative channels, such as the many online and broadcasting platforms available in the digital age, in place of in-person gatherings.
However, state public health directives do not prohibit in-person outdoor protests as long as you maintain a physical distance of 6 feet between persons or groups of persons from different households at all times. When you can’t maintain a safe physical distance of 6 feet from people not in your household, you must wear a face covering or mask. Local Health Officers are advised to consider appropriate limitations on outdoor attendance capacities, factoring their jurisdiction’s key COVID-19 health indicators. Failure to maintain adequate physical distancing may result in an order to disperse or other enforcement action. Masks and face coverings are strongly recommended.
In counties that have been on the County Monitoring List for three consecutive days, indoor protests are not currently permitted. State public health directives do not prohibit in-person indoor protests as long as (1) attendance is limited to 25% of the relevant area’s maximum occupancy, as defined by the relevant local permitting authority or other relevant authority, or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower, (2) physical distancing of 6 feet between persons or groups of persons from different households is maintained at all times, and (3) singing and chanting activities are discontinued. Failure to maintain adequate physical distancing may result in an order to disperse or other enforcement action. Masks and face coverings are required in compliance with CDPH directives.
Participants must maintain a physical distance of 6 feet from any uniformed peace officers and other public safety personnel present, unless otherwise directed, and follow all other requirements and directives imposed by local health officers and law enforcement, or other applicable authorities.
This limitation on attendance will be reviewed regularly. This review will assess the impacts of these imposed limits on public health and provide further direction as part of a phased-in restoration of gatherings that implicate the First Amendment.
Elections are an essential activity, and the Governor has issued executive orders to ensure elections are safe and accessible. Vote-by-mail ballots will be sent to all registered voters for the November 3, 2020 General Election. Additionally, many in-person voting opportunities will be available: counties are required to provide three days of early voting starting the Saturday before the election, and open ballot drop-box locations between October 6 and November 3, 2020. The Secretary of State and the California Department of Public Health are working on additional guidance to ensure that all Californians are able to participate in elections safely. Except where suspended by Executive Order, existing laws addressing the use of vote-by-mail ballots in California elections remain in effect.
Of course, whenever you engage in any permissible activity—including the collection and drop-off of ballots, or other election-related activities (such as the collection of signatures to qualify candidates or measures for the ballot)—adhere to physical distancing and other applicable public health directives.
Yes. Practicing your faith is a constitutionally-protected activity and may manifest in many different forms.
Although in-person religious gatherings—like other in-person gatherings—have been restricted to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, on May 25, 2020, the State Public Health Officer began to ease restrictions on in-person religious gatherings. In particular, the State Public Health Officer now authorizes County Departments of Public Health to allow collective activities at places of worship, subject to conditions to support a safe, clean environment for employees, interns and trainees, volunteers, scholars, and all other types of workers as well as congregants, worshippers, and visitors.
Information on conditions imposed by the state can be found at guidance for places of worship (PDF). Additional conditions may be imposed by local public health officials. This guidance does not obligate places of worship to resume in-person activity. It is strongly recommended that places of worship continue to facilitate remote services and other alternatives to in-person religious practice for those who are vulnerable to COVID19.
Even with adherence to physical distancing, convening in a congregational setting of multiple households to practice a personal faith carries a higher risk of widespread transmission of COVID-19, and may result in increased rates of infection, hospitalization, and death, especially among more vulnerable populations. In particular, activities like singing and group recitation dramatically increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission. For this reason, singing and chanting activities must be discontinued at indoor services, and congregants engaging in group recitation should wear face coverings at all times.
Places of worship must therefore limit indoor attendance to 25% of building capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower, and singing and chanting activities must be discontinued in indoor services. In counties on the County Monitoring List for three consecutive days, places of worship must discontinue indoor services.
Local Health Officers are advised to consider appropriate limitations on outdoor attendance capacities, factoring their jurisdiction’s key COVID-19 health indicators. At a minimum, outdoor attendance should be limited naturally through implementation of strict physical distancing measures of a minimum of 6 feet between attendees from different households, in addition to other relevant protocols within this document.
This limitation will be regularly reviewed by the California Department of Public Health.
At this time, no. Children should remain in the care of those in their household unit and not interact with children of other parties at all times while visiting facilities. Places of worship must discontinue activities and services for children (for example, shared play areas) where physical distancing of at least 6 feet cannot be maintained.
The California Department of Public Health, in consultation with county Departments of Public Health, will regularly review and assess the impacts of these imposed limits on public health and provide further direction as part of a phased-in restoration of activities in places of worship.
It’s okay to go outside to go for a walk, to exercise, and participate in healthy activities as long as you maintain a safe physical distance of 6 feet and gather only with members of your household. You can also participate in activities at outdoor recreational facilities that are allowed to open. Parks may be closed to help slow the spread of the virus. Check with local officials about park closures in your area. Californians should not travel significant distances for recreation and should stay close to home.
Below is a list of some outdoor recreational activities.
- Badminton (singles)
- Throwing a baseball/softball
- BMX biking
- Canoeing (singles)
- Exploring rock pools
- Gardening (not in groups)
- Golfing (doubles, only if cart has protective partition)
- Hiking (trails/ paths allowing distancing)
- Horse riding (singles)
- Jogging and running
- Kite boarding and kitesurfing
- Outdoor photography
- Picnics (with your household members only)
- Quad biking
- Rock climbing
- Roller skating and rollerblading
- Rowing (singles)
- Scootering (not in groups)
- Skateboarding (not in groups)
- Soft martial arts – tai chi, chi kung (not in groups)
- Tennis and table tennis (singles)
- Throwing a football, kicking a soccer ball (not in groups)
- Trail running
- Tree climbing
- Volleyball (singles)
- Walk the dog
- Wash the car
- Watch the sunrise or sunset
You can walk your dog. You can go to the vet or pet hospital if your pet is sick. Remember to wear a face covering and distance yourself at least 6 feet from other pets and owners.
State Parks, campgrounds, museums, and visitor centers may continue to be closed to help slow the spread of the virus. Starting June 12, some counties may open campgrounds and RV parks. Be sure to check parks in your area before you travel. Californians should not travel significant distances for pleasure or recreation and should stay close to home. If you do travel, take steps to keep everyone safe like wearing a face covering, keeping 6 feet of physical distance from those not in your household, and washing your hands frequently.
You can walk, run, hike and bike in your local neighborhoods as long as they continue to practice physical distancing of 6 feet. This means avoiding crowded trails and parking lots.
For information on National Parks, please the National Park Service website.
You can travel for urgent matters or if such travel is essential to your permitted work. Even though businesses around the state are opening up, avoid travelling long distances for vacations or pleasure as much as possible. This is to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Do not travel if you are sick, or if someone in your household has had coronavirus in the last two weeks. Do not travel with someone who is sick.
Before travelling away from your community, consider these questions from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) travel guidance:
- Is coronavirus spreading where you are traveling?
- Are you or those you are traveling with more likely to get very sick from coronavirus?
- Will you be able to keep 6 feet of physical distance from others during or after your trip?
If you do travel, take steps to keep everyone safe like wearing a face covering, keeping 6 feet of physical distance from those not in your household, and washing your hands frequently.
Beginning June 11, all DMV offices are open to the public to help with appointments that require an in-person visit. You will be required to wear a mask and must remain 6 feet apart in line. In-person appointments are limited to:
- Paying registration for a vehicle impounded because of registration-related issues
- Reinstating a suspended or revoked driver license
- Applying for a reduced-fee or no-fee identification card
- Processing commercial driver license transactions
- Applying for a disabled person parking placards
- Adding an ambulance certificate or firefighter endorsement to a driver license
- Verifying a transit training document to drive a transit bus
- Processing DMV Express customers for REAL ID transactions, if time and space allows
- On June 26, the DMV will begin behind-the-wheel driving tests. The DMV will reschedule all cancelled driving test appointments. New behind-the-wheel driving tests will not be available until all cancelled appointments are completed.
- For the health and safety of drivers and DMV staff, you must wear a face covering and will have your temperature checked before the test.
DMV services that do not require an in-person office visit can be accessed through the DMV Virtual Field Office, including driver’s license renewals, vehicle registrations, title changes, and more.
DMV has extended deadlines for:
- Drivers 70 years of age and older with licenses expiring between March 1 through December 31, 2020 are valid for one year from the original expiration date.
- Drivers 69 years of age and younger with licenses expiring between March 1 through July 31, 2020 can request a free temporary extension online, though one is not needed to drive.
- Expiring commercial licenses, endorsements, and certificates are valid through June 30, 2020.
- In-person renewals for vehicle registrations that expire between the dates of March 16, 2020, and May 31, 2020.
- In-person renewals for those with safe driving records whose last DMV visit was 15 years ago.
- Driver license permits expiring between June through August 2020 are extended six months or to a date 24 months from the date of application, whichever is earlier.
- Commercial learner’s permits expiring between March and June 2020 are now valid through June 30, 2020.
It depends. Some smog check locations may be closed. The Bureau of Automotive Repair advises drivers to still pay DMV vehicle registration fees to avoid any late fees. However, you will not receive your new registration or year sticker until the smog information has been received by DMV. Once state and local orders or directives are no longer in effect, you can then obtain the required smog check certificate to complete the DMV vehicle registration process.