UPDATED 3/18/20 6:00 P.M.: With the assistance of the Orange County Business Council, the County of Orange has revised their previous order to provide clearer instruction. The Amended Health Order and Guidance of 3-18-20 does NOT require Irvine or the rest of Orange County to shelter in place. 

The amended order states: “Nothing in this document prohibits businesses or other entities from operating within Orange County. Businesses and entities should operate in accordance with social distancing guidelines issued by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).” 

Per the order, the prohibition of all public and private gatherings still stands. More information on this ban can be found on the CDPH website here. The CDPH clarifies that a “gathering” is any event or convening that brings together people in a single room or single space at the same time, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall, cafeteria, or any other indoor or outdoor space. 

Nothing in Orange County’s order prohibits the gathering of members of a household, family, living unit, or the utilization of caregivers. It is also important to note that the order does not prohibit going to work or performing essential services. A comprehensive list of exemptions can be found here

All businesses that remain open must make every effort to use telecommuting for their workforce, suspending any policy or procedure requiring doctor verification for leave approval. All must maintain social distancing and increase sanitation standards. 

The closure of all non-food serving bars, movie theaters, gyms and health clubs remains in effect. 

Readers can find the Amended Order and Guidance of the Orange County Health Officer in its entirety here

We will continue to update as the situation unfolds. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020 4 P.M.: Effective immediately, all public and private gatherings of any number of people outside of a single household or living unit are prohibited in Orange County. 

Orange County Health Officer Dr. Nichole Quick issued an order Tuesday, March 17, 2020 mandating the new COVID-19 regulations to be followed by all Orange County cities. The order bans all social, professional, and community gatherings regardless of their sponsor. 

All bars not serving food most close completely. Restaurants and other business establishments that do serve food must close all on-site dining, though food served via delivery, pick-up, or drive-thru is still allowed. However, all staff and customers must adhere to strict social distancing rules – maintaining a six-foot separation from all persons except for family members. 

While not officially banned, a strong recommendation has been made by O.C. officials and the California Department of Public Health that all residents aged 65 years and older, as well as those with a serious chronic medical condition (such as heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes) or compromised immune system should remain confined to their homes. 

Gatherings that involve Essential Activities may still be conducted if they cannot be plausibly postponed, or if their function serves a vital community need. Per the Order of the Local Health Officer, Essential Activities include: 

  • All services needed to ensure the continuing operation of government agencies providing for the health, safety, and welfare of the public
  • Hospitals and other essential healthcare operations 
  • First responders and other emergency and law personnel
  • Grocery stores and other establishments selling food supplies for both people and animals, as well as household cleaning and personal care products
  • Food cultivation such as farming and livestock care
  • Businesses providing aid for economically disadvantaged individuals and families
  • Media services
  • Gas stations and auto-supply
  • Banks and related financial institutions
  • Hardware stores
  • Plumbers, electricians, and other service providers that maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences

Further direction for home-based care, childcare, and residential facilities was also listed in the order. 

Essential businesses must maintain social distancing and increase sanitation standards. 

All businesses must make every effort to use telecommuting for their workforce, suspending any policy or procedure requiring doctor verification for leave approval. 

Those who are exhibiting mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 should self-isolate and contact their medical provider. 

Violations of this order are subject to fine, imprisonment, or both. 

The county order is expected to last through March 31, though officials acknowledge that the COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation that may necessitate a revision or extension of the order at any time. 

The Orange County Health Officer’s regulations are intended to preserve and protect the life and property of all Orange County citizens. It comes on the heels of the White House’s Coronavirus guidelines that were announced earlier this week. 

Other counties are experiencing similar shutdowns and mandatory closures, including San Francisco and Los Angeles. 

For updates on Irvine’s pandemic response, visit cityofirvine.org.