A sign on the door of the city’s Development Services Center. / Photo by Megan Wood
A sign on the door of the city’s Development Services Center. / Photo by Megan Wood

This post was last updated at 4:15 p.m. on March 20.

A dizzying array of official voices are offering guidance, recommendations and rules as San Diego County moves closer to a major lockdown of social and economic movement in an effort to blunt the transmission of the novel coronavirus.

We wanted to create a living document putting all of them in one place, so San Diegans can stay up to date on exactly what local, state and federal authorities are telling people to do in the region and at the border.

Please let us know if you have any questions or tips with this form.

Stay Home

That’s it. Thursday, March 19, 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered all Californians to stay home until further notice. We can go out to perform essential jobs or to access essential services like:

  • Gas stations
  • Pharmacies
  • Food: grocery stores, farmers markets, convenience stores, and take-out restaurants (who can also deliver)
  • Banks
  • Laundry services

You can read more here.

Close the bars, clubs and wineries. Cancel your events: County health officials announced Monday afternoon that they would, among other steps, bar all public and private gatherings of at least 50 people, force bars and nightclubs to shutter and ban in-person dining at local restaurants effective Tuesday, March 17.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer later held his own press conference to announce that the city would enforce bar and nightclub closures.

The San Diego Police Department and San Diego County Sheriff’s Department indicated they will enforce these measures if necessary.

Gyms and fitness centers now must close, too. Casinos will shutter March 20.

The county is strongly discouraging any non-essential gatherings of more than 10 people. If you are gathering in groups of less than 10 people, try to maintain the six-foot social distancing recommendations.

Seniors must isolate themselves: The governor had earlier recommended that people over age 65 stay home and isolate themselves from contact with others. The county reiterated Monday that officials strongly recommend that all people over 65 and those with underlying chronic health conditions quarantine themselves at home.

Many grocery stores have started providing special hours for seniors and other vulnerable populations to limit their exposure. You can find a list of some of those here.

The county recommends that all people arriving to the county from an at-risk country should self-quarantine for 14 days. Anybody experiencing mild symptoms should also self-isolate unless their symptoms get so severe that they need to seek medical care.

Telecommuting should be the new norm: All businesses shall implement social distancing, allowing for six feet between employees, and best hygienic practices. Whenever possible, businesses should allow telecommuting. Businesses should also suspend any requirements for sick employees to require a doctor’s note, so doctors won’t be burdened with those requests.

Don’t expect many people to be tested: Even with the first “presumptive positive” that may likely be a community-based transmission, County Public Health Officer Wilma Wooten said that we shouldn’t expect that everyone will ever be able to be tested.

The county public health lab had about 1,200 tests as of last week and is looking at ways to increase capacity.

Commercial labs and local hospitals are developing the capabilities to test as well. Scripps Health in La Jolla began drive-up testing in what it calls a “COVID cabana” Friday. People are asked to call a nurses’ line at (888) 261-8431 before going to any Scripps facility, and only people referred by the nurses can receive the drive-up testing.

People who aren’t part of especially at-risk populations or who have mild symptoms, similar to cold- or flu-like symptoms, will likely just be asked to stay home.

The current CDC categories for testing are people who:

  • have been to infected areas (like China, Italy or Iran)
  • have had a history of contact with someone who has been confirmed to have the virus
  • present respiratory distress symptoms

Restrictions for facilities with high-risk populations: Dr. Nick Yphantides, the county’s chief medical officer, said Thursday that facilities that care for high-risk populations (people over the age of 65 or people of any age with chronic illnesses) all need to implement immediate visitor restrictions and enforce sick leave policies for all employees who may be ill in any way. This includes acute care hospitals that provide in-patient care and all regional long-term care facilities, including skilled nursing facilities.

Hospitals were directed by the county to maintain resources by delaying all non-essential surgeries and other procedures.

The county’s family resource centers, where residents can apply for food and housing assistance, Medi-Cal and more, have suspended in-person services. Most services provided at these facilities are available online, and staff will continue to answer questions via phone or email.

Courts pulling back: The San Diego Superior Court early Monday said most court operations would halt through at least April 3, and the Union-Tribune reports that the federal court is expected to announce that it will suspend all proceedings until at least mid-April.

All jurors summoned to the Superior Court from March 16 through April 3 should not report. Their jury service will be considered fulfilled. Anyone summoned after April 5 should monitor sdcourt.ca.gov for updates.

Updates: The county has new numbers and regularly updated information at this site.

Recommendations for preparations: Here are the county’s specific recommendations:

  • Store a two-week supply of food – including food for family pets.
  • Ensure an adequate supply of medications.
  • Make a plan to care for older and sick family members.
  • Create an emergency contact list of family and friends, teachers and employers.
  • Have a plan in case your school, childcare or employer closes temporarily.


Everything we know about the difficult decision to close local schools is here.

Many schools are still providing meals for students during the closures. You can find a list of school sites providing food here.

San Diego Unified School District announced Friday that it will close schools beginning on Monday, March 16. The current plan is for schools to reopen on Monday, April 6, “unless conditions call for an extension,” the district wrote in a press release.

Poway Unified announced Friday it will also close schools beginning March 16 and reopen April 6.

Higher education: The region’s colleges and universities have announced major shutdowns.

UC San Diego: All large events on campus should be canceled and all smaller events, along with non-essential visits to the campus are intensely discouraged. Classes will move online for the spring quarter.

SDSU: Friday, March 13, is the last day of face-to-face instruction. The university will close campus effectively and move classes online April 6. All athletic events are canceled.

Study abroad programs have been canceled and students have been asked to return home.

USD: The university’s president announced classes would be canceled all week starting March 16 and will move online afterward. All athletic events are also canceled.

Kids should stay home: The county released another recommendation that kids should not go to public spaces or mingle. The whole point of closing schools is to keep them separated.

The U.S.-Mexico Border

Starting Saturday, March 21, the U.S.-Mexico land border will be closed to nonessential travel.

Commercial goods arriving via rail and truck are exempt, as are “essential” personnel, lawful permanent residents and those with legal work permits. Essential travel includes people traveling for medical purposes, attending school or engaged in trade, like truck drivers, and others, according to a regulation notice set to be published Tuesday.

The State Department has advised U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel.

We will update this as more guidance is offered.

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