Shelter in Place Information & FAQs

UPDATE: The Sonoma County Health Officer today extended the Health Order for people to shelter-in-place safely in their homes until May 3, 2020. The original Order was announced on Wednesday March 18 and set to expire on April 7, 2020.

By order of the Public Health Officer for the County of Sonoma, all county residents are under a Shelter in Place order effective Tuesday, March 17tat midnight. It is currently set to last for 3 weeks through Tuesday, April 7, 2020. The County will monitor the situation closely every day in order to determine what adjustments make sense. 

Sonoma County is requiring people to stay home except for essential needs. The intent of this order is to ensure that the maximum number of people self-isolate in their places of residence to the maximum extent feasible.

The City of Sebastopol is working hard to keep the community safe and informed during these uncertain times and thanks its citizens for their continued support. We will update this page as the situation evolves.

Read the full press release.

*Thank you to the City of Berkeley. Questions and answers were adapted from their Shelter in Place FAQs. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question that you don’t see here? Email us at

Where can I find answers if I have a question that I do not see listed here?
What does the Shelter in Place Order do?
What does it mean to “shelter in place?”
What is the difference between “sheltering in place” and “social distancing”?
Should I stock up on food, necessities like toilet paper, and on medicines?
When does the Order go into effect?
How long does the Shelter in Place Order last?
Can the Shelter in Place Order be changed?
Where is the Shelter in Place Order in effect?
Who issued the Shelter in Place Order?
Is the Shelter in Place Order mandatory or is it just guidance?
Why is the Shelter in Place Order in place?
Why now?
Why are county Public Health Officers issuing an order that shuts down so many businesses in my community?
Am I allowed to leave my home while the Shelter in Place Order is in effect?
Can I leave home to visit friends or family members if there is no urgent need?
Can I still get my mail and deliveries?
Can I still order the things I need online and have them delivered to my residence?
Can I get a ride in my favorite ride share/on demand service or a taxi?
Can I take public transport (bus, train)?
Can I get my prescriptions or other health care needs? Can I leave home to go to the pharmacy to get my prescription filled?
How will I get food and medicines I need if I must “shelter in place” in my home?
What if I need to get healthcare from my medical provider?
Can I still seek non-essential medical care like eye exams, teeth cleaning, elective procedures, etc.?
What should I do if I’m sick? If I or a family member need immediate medical attention, can I leave home to go to the doctor or hospital?
Can I leave home to care for my elderly parents or friends who require assistance to care for themselves? Or a friend or family member who has disabilities?
Can I visit loved ones in the hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility, or other residential care facility?
What if I can’t get out of the home? How can I get supplies and food?
Will all business offices and stores be required to close? What are “Essential Businesses”?
What if my business is not considered an Essential Business? Does the Shelter in Place Order require that I shut down my business facility?
Is the local government shutting down?
I work for the government—Can I continue to go to work?
What do I do if my employer requires me to go to work?
Does the Shelter in Place Order require that schools shut down?
I work for Apple, Google, or another large technology company that provides products and services that the public needs to access critical services. Is my company being completely shut down?
Will the Shelter in Place Order prevent companies working on vaccines and testing for COVID-19 from continuing to do that work?
Are non-profit organizations allowed to continue operating?
Am I allowed to leave the areas covered by this Order in order to travel to/from a job outside the Bay Area? Does the Order allow me to leave my City or County?
What do I do about my kids? I have to work.
Can I leave home to go to my church, synagogue, mosque or other place of worship?
Can I leave home to exercise?
I become anxious when cooped up in my house. Am I allowed to go outdoors for fresh air or exercise?
What do I do about my loved one who needs care from me?
Can I go to the store (grocery store, market, corner store, food bank, etc.) to buy food and other things?
Can grocery stores, farmers markets, and other food retailers remain open?
I operate a food facility-- what practices should I follow to keep my patrons safe?
Can I go shopping for things other than food/groceries?
Can I go to the bank?
What are the social distancing guidelines I still need to follow?
When practicing social distancing, how far should I stay away from others if I must be away from my home?
What if I’m in a line and there isn’t six feet between me and others?
I work for an essential infrastructure organization—can I leave home to go to work?
I work in healthcare operations—can I leave home to go to work?
Can I go to a bar/nightclub/theater?
Can I go to a restaurant, café, coffee or tea shop, ice cream shop, or other foodservice location?
Is my favorite restaurant, café, coffee or tea shop, ice cream shop, or other foodservice location open?
I don’t cook—how can I purchase meals?
How can I access free or reduced-price meals for myself or my family?
Can I go to the gym or health club?
Can I walk my dog/pet?
Can I go to a vet or pet hospital if my pet is sick?
What if my plumbing gets stopped up or there is another problem with necessary equipment at my home? How will I access those sorts of services?
What if I want to go to work at a physical location in the City or in the six affected counties and I’m not sick?
What happens if I don’t comply with the Shelter in Place Order?
Can I operate a business that can or does sell things that can be delivered to people’s homes; can I continue doing that and shift more of my business to a delivery model?
Can I take my kids to the park and can we use playgrounds?
If I am currently outside the City, can I travel into the City?
What about persons experiencing homelessness?
Where can I go if I am a business owner or employee of a business that has been affected by COVID-19?