San Benito County Administration Building. File Photo.
San Benito County Administration Building. File Photo.

At a March 17 press conference, San Benito County Health Officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib issued an order for residents to shelter at home in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The order comes one day after seven other Bay Area counties—Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara—issued similar shelter at home orders.

The shelter at home order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on March 18 and will continue until 11:59 p.m. on April 7, or until the order is extended or rescinded.

During the press conference, Fenstersheib announced that another resident was identified that morning to have COVID-19.

“This individual is a 42-year old male resident of Hollister who appears to have been exposed during his work in Santa Clara County, but lives here in our community,” he said. “He is currently isolated in his residence. We don’t see any other potential for exposure in Hollister and we’re working very closely with Santa Clara County in order to give them the information so they can investigate other potential exposures that may have occurred during this individual’s working time.”

Similar to those announced on March 16, San Benito County’s shelter at home order allows for continuation of essential services and activities that include exceptions necessary to limit negative public health impact. Those essential services include:

  • law and safety operations
  • essential government services
  • health care operations
  • pharmacies
  • child care facilities
  • food production including farming
  • food businesses including groceries and other food retailers
  • telecommunications
  • restaurants operating at reduced capacity
  • shelter including hotels
  • social services
  • establishments and agencies serving economically disadvantaged populations
  • gas stations
  • banks
  • laundry businesses
  • safety and sanitation businesses

Essential activities (exemptions to the shelter in place order) include:

  • Tasks essential to maintain health and safety, such as obtaining medicine or seeing a doctor
  • Getting necessary services or supplies for themselves, their family or household members, such as food, medicine, pet food, and supplies necessary for staying home
  • Engaging in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking, or running provided that at least six feet of social distancing is maintained
  • Performing work providing essential services at an Essential Business or Essential Government function
  • Caring for a family member in another household
  • Caring for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons.

Essential government services to remain open, such as police, fire, healthcare and human services, as well as essential stores like grocery markets, pharmacies, banks and gas stations.

Restaurants are limited to take-out and delivery only: bars, gyms, and non-essential stores to close.


Individuals may leave their place of residence to:

1) Operate an Essential Business, which includes:

  • Healthcare operations, including home health workers
  • Essential infrastructure, including construction of housing and operation of public transportation and utilities
  • Grocery stores
  • Businesses that provide necessities of life for economically disadvantaged individuals and shelter facilities
  • Pharmacies, health care supply stores, and health care facilities
  • Gas stations and auto repair facilities
  • Banks
  • Garbage collection
  • Hardware stores, plumbers, electricians, and other service providers necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences and other essential businesses
  • Educational institutions, for the purposes of facilitating distance learning
  • Laundromats
  • Childcare facilities providing services that enable essential employees to go to work
  • Roles required for any Essential Business to “maintain basic operations,” which include security, payroll, and similar activities.

2) Perform an Essential Government Function:

This includes all services needed to ensure the continuing operation of the government agencies and provide for the health, safety and welfare of the public.

Stay informed. For more information about COVID-19, see the Centers for Disease Control website at, call 211 or text “COVID19” to 211211 or visit the San Benito County Public Health Services website for updated local information at