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).
On August 28, 2020, the state released a Blueprint for a Safer Economy in the state with revised criteria for loosening and tightening restrictions on activities.
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.
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.
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.
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 in counties in Substantial (red), Moderate (orange), and Minimal (yellow) tiers, subject to certain restrictions in those counties. State public health directives also permit 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.
The California Department of Public Health has released guidance for gatherings.
Crowds and limited physical distancing increase the risk for COVID-19. If you attended a gathering, 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.
Yes. Hair salons and barbershops are now open throughout the state with modifications for safety.
They are being enforced, and you can report it. Report unsafe conditions or businesses that shouldn’t be open to your local Alcohol Beverage Control, Labor Commissioner’s office, or regional Cal/OSHA office, depending on the type of business. To find these local contacts, see Appendix B of the Employer Playbook for a Safe Reopening (PDF).
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 follow these requirements may result in an order to disperse or other enforcement action. Masks and face coverings are strongly recommended.
In counties in the Widespread (purple) tier, indoor protests are not currently permitted. In other counties, state public health directives do not prohibit in-person indoor protests as long as (1) attendance is limited as required by the relevant restrictions on places of worship, (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 follow these requirements 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. 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. Most counties will provide three days of early voting in-person starting the Saturday before the election. Open ballot drop-box locations will be available between October 6 and November 3, 2020. Existing laws addressing the use of vote-by-mail ballots in California elections remain in effect except where suspended by Executive Order. Find guidance for the safe administration of elections during COVID-19.
Visit online voter registration to register to vote or check your voter registration status.
Practice physical distancing and follow other applicable public health directives while engaged in election-related activities. These include collection and drop-off of ballots, and collection of signatures to qualify candidates or measures for the ballot.
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 may only open indoor operations when permitted by relevant local restrictions and must comply with all applicable attendance limitations and guidance requirements.
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.
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 playgrounds and recreational facilities that are allowed to open. Parks may be closed to help slow the spread of the virus. Young people can participate in sports as permitted by the youth sports guidance (PDF). Adult recreational team sports are not permitted at this time. 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. Outdoor playgrounds are also open if they are operated by city, state, county, or federal government.
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.
You should check with the local health department where you are starting from, along your route, and at your planned destination for information. Know that local rules are constantly changing and may change even after you start your trip. Check for travel updates before you leave your home.
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.
To prevent further spread of COVID-19, Californians should not travel significant distances and should stay close to home as much as possible.
There are currently no restrictions for entering California if you are coming from another state in the U.S. The federal government has placed restrictions on certain international travelers. With specific exceptions, foreign nationals who visited certain countries during the past 14 days are prohibited from entry to the United States. All travelers should take safety precautions when considering traveling.·
- Don’t travel if you have been sick in the past 14 days or if you live with someone with COVID-19·
- Don’t travel with someone who is sick
- Wear a mask in public
- Wash your hands
- Keep 6 feet from anyone you don’t live with
Outdoor swimming pools are allowed to open in all counties in California. Outdoor pools must close slides, rides, or other attractions.
Indoor swimming pools are closed in counties in the Widespread (purple) or Substantial (red) tiers.
Water parks, both indoor and outdoor, remain closed throughout the state.
When out of the water, masks or face coverings should be worn. Physical distancing should be practiced at all times. Group gatherings are not allowed. Bring your own towel, and don’t share items that are worn on the face (like goggles, nose clips, or snorkels). Pool operators should follow heightened cleaning and safety guidance in response to COVID-19. See sector guidance for gyms and fitness centers and campgrounds and outdoor recreation.
Yes, but first check if an in-person visit is required. Several deadlines have been extended, and many DMV services can be accessed online.
DMV has extended deadlines for:
- Drivers 70 years of age and older with licenses expiring between March 1 through December 31, 2020. Your license is 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. Though the extension has now expired, you can renew your license online. An in-person visit is not required.
- Expiring commercial licenses, endorsements, and certificates. They are valid through September 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 March and November 2020. They 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 September 2020. They are now valid through September 30, 2020.
DMV offers many services that can be handled online, including simple vehicle registration, renewing a driver’s license, getting a duplicate license, and more. See:
Some DMV services that used to require an in-person office visit can now be accessed online, including driver’s license renewals, vehicle registrations, title transfers, temporary driver’s license extensions, commercial driver’s license renewals, and more. See:
Beginning June 11, all DMV offices are open to the public for 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
- Behind-the-wheel driving tests
- On June 26, the DMV began behind-the-wheel driving tests. All cancelled driving test appointments will be rescheduled. New 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.
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.