August 23, 2020
Dear Neighbor,
In addition to taking precautions as a result of the pandemic, a wildfire red flag warning has been issued for the Berkeley hills, effective 5 a.m. today through 5 pm tomorrow, Mon., Aug. 24.

I am sharing a fire update e-mail below that I received from our Deputy City Manager Paul Buddenhagen, along with information on new outdoor activities to resume, and a BART Station Planning Community Meeting on Aug. 31.
Berkeley Fire and Police Deployments 
All fire stations in Berkeley are operational and fully staffed.

A Type 1 structure firefighting engine with three personnel initially deployed to Vacaville and are now assigned to a strike team in Healdsburg. They are expected to be demobilized in the next day or two depending on fire conditions. 

The Fire Department’s Type 3 Wildfire Engine with four personnel deployed to the Sunol Fire last week. The crew rotated with new members yesterday and is expected to be deployed another week. 

Berkeley Fire Chief Brannigan and two firefighters were deployed to our performing arts camp in Cazadero on Wednesday to assess it for risk and vegetation management needs with a fire threatening the area. The camp is well maintained and could likely be defended if needed.

A crew of four deployed to Guerneville on Thursday with the Above Ground Water System to help supply firefighters with water to defend the town and also Berkeley’s camp at Cazadero. That fire has shifted and the crew and equipment returned to Berkeley yesterday. 

Last week, Berkeley Police deployed 15 officers to provide mutual aid to help with the fire management in Napa County.

Lightning strikes and stormy weather have prompted the National Weather Service in San Francisco to issue a Red Flag Warning which is in effect from 5 a.m. Sun., Aug. 23 through to 5 p.m. Mon., Aug. 24. Our Fire crews and Office of Emergency Services will monitor closely throughout the Red Flag Warning and will persist and be ready to respond as long as conditions remain dangerous.
Red Flag Response 
Patrols: A Type 6 Wildfire Engine with three personnel will be on duty Sunday and Monday for 48 hours to patrol the hills for fires and for response to local fires only. We will work with NALCO ham radio operators to determine if they are available for their volunteer patrols. 

Emergency Alerting: AC Alerts have begun warning people of the coming weather and pointing them to evacuation resources on Berkeley’s website. Additional messaging will continue as needed. 

Emergency Operations Center (EOC): The EOC in addition to the COVID response is regularly monitoring fire and air quality conditions. They are preparing to stand up a clean-air shelter if necessary as well as supporting field operations in the event of a fire and/or evacuation. 

Checking Air Quality
A good source information on air quality can be found at the interactive map, which is updated hourly. The City's air quality webpage provides information on how to understand Air Quality Index (AQI) levels.

Be Prepared
Sign up to receive Alameda County Emergency Alerts HERE.

The Berkeley hills are exposed to dangerous wildfires that may spread quickly. Hills residents must be ready to evacuate with or without notice from public safety officials. More info:
New Outdoor Activities to Resume
The last major change to the Shelter In Place Order occurred more than nine weeks ago. After seeing a downward trend in cases and the percentage of individuals testing positive, the City of Berkeley is now planning to resume certain outdoor activities beginning Fri., Aug. 28.

The City released the following news release on Fri., Aug. 21:
Certain outdoor activitiesfrom pools to hair cutswill be allowed to open next week using COVID-19 safeguards, measures that reduce risk for lower-contact, limited duration activities during a pandemic.

Certain outdoor activitiesfrom pools to hair cutswill be allowed to open next week using COVID-19 safeguards, measures that reduce risk for lower-contact, limited duration activities during a pandemic.

Increased sanitation, limits on the total number of people, the use of appointments, verbal screening for symptoms and protective equipment are some of the required measures used for various activities permitted by a new City of Berkeley Health Officer Order, which goes into effect at 8 a.m. on Fri., Aug. 28.

The new Health Order allows the following activities, with restrictions:
  • Outdoor pools
  • Outdoor personal care services
  • Small, outdoor practices for school and college sports
  • Live-streamed and live entertainment at vehicle-based gatherings
  • Outdoor wine tasting

Even as new activities are allowed, caution remains. There is still no effective treatment nor vaccine for COVID-19 disease. Alameda County as a whole, which includes Berkeley as an independent health jurisdiction, remains on a state monitoring list due to case rate and hospitalizations.

"This untreatable virus remains a threat," said City of Berkeley Health Officer Dr. Lisa B. Hernandez. "Every person and every household should weigh even these newly permitted activities through the lens of riskand what they are comfortable with."

Safeguards every person should take
Dr. Hernandez urges everyone to continue to take precautions:
  • Your home is still the safest place to be, especially for those at high risk.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and wateror use hand sanitizer as a last resort.
  • Keep six feet apart from those outside your household.
  • Wear a face covering when you go out.

Hair salons, barbershops, and other personal care services
The updated order allows certain personal care services to resume, including haircuts, manicures, waxing, and massage. Providers must perform these services outdoors and follow guidance for outdoor personal care from the California Department of Public Health.

All personal care services must be offered by appointment only, with time reserved for cleaning and disinfecting service areas between customers. Providers are required to call customers in advance of their appointments to confirm they are not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and remind them to come to their appointment alone.

Both the provider and customer must wear face coverings during the appointment.

Services that would place providers in close contact with a customer's face or require removal of face coveringssuch as eyebrow waxing and threading, eyelash treatments, facials, and removal of facial hairare still prohibited.

Outdoor swimming pools
Operators of outdoor swimming pools may also reopen, but must:
  • Limit number of swimmers in shared areas
  • Have at least one additional person, beyond a lifeguard, on duty at all times to ensure compliance with the order.
  • Have sign-up or reservations to stagger use when in residential complexes with unstaffed pools. Reservations and sign-ups are encouraged, but not required, for staffed pools.
  • Use social distancing measures, such as closing showers, locker rooms, and saunas and limiting elements that encourage poolside gathering, such as tables and chairs.
  • Require face coverings when not swimming.
  • Close water slides, water rides or other attractions.

City of Berkeley pools will be opening no sooner than Sept. 14 due to the need to re-certify lifeguards.

Outdoor vehicle based gatherings with live entertainment
Live performances will be allowed outdoors at vehicle-based gatherings. 

Events can have no more than 12 personnel on site, including only the staff and performers essential to carry out the event, which can include live-streaming.

Performers speaking, singing, or playing wind or brass instruments must be in an isolation booth and separated from others performers while speaking, singing, or playing instruments. Performers speaking, singing, or playing wind or brass instruments in an isolation booth are exempt from the Face Covering Order while performing.

All other performers must wear a face covering at all times. All performers must keep a minimum of eight feet of distance from others.

Outdoor Wine Tasting
Wineries may conduct outdoor wine tastings that follow state guidelines as well as the following restrictions:
  • Tastings must be by appointment only.
  • Beverages must be poured by staff, who should avoid touching patrons' glasses or bottles.
  • Facilities must discontinue use of communal dump buckets, spit buckets, or other such vessels, and must provide patrons with individual, disposable containers to avoid splash contamination between guests.
  • Face coverings must be worn at all times, except when drinking or eating.
  • All indoor areas of the winery must be closed to the public, except to allow access to restrooms, hand-washing facilities, quick pick-up of food or other goods, or as necessary to access outdoor tasting areas. All indoor seating areas must be closed.

Everyone has a role in keeping our community safe
Increased activities and movements will lead to more COVID-19 cases. Doing so in a gradual fashion with lower-risk activities and new safeguards lessens the impact and allows health officials to monitor the effects of each phase.

"Everyone in our community holds tools to reduce spread," said Dr. Hernandez. "Wear a face covering, wash hands frequently, keep distance from others and get tested if concerned."

Bart Station Planning Community Meeting
Please mark your calendars for Community Meeting #1, which will be held on Mon., Aug. 31 from 6-8 p.m. 

This is our first general community meeting of the AB 2923 BART Zoning Standards process and will provide information tailored to the general public that the BART Community Advisory Group discussed at their first and second meetings.  
COVID-19 Resources
Covid-19 Teleconferences

Listen to the Mayor's Virtual Town Hall with Deputy City Manager Paul Buddenhagen and Health Officer Dr. Lisa Hernandez from Aug. 22 HERE.

Give and Receive Help

General Resources. The Mayor’s Office has created a resource guide, with information about parking enforcement, senior hours at local grocery stores and other information.

The state COVID-19 website is where you can get up to speed on what’s happening statewide, learn how you can safely help, and find out what resources and assistance may be available, such as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (for business owners, self-employed individuals, independent contractors, and others who aren't usually eligible for regular state unemployment insurance benefits).

A Berkeley Mutual Aid website has been created for neighbors to offer and receive assistance, such as with grocery shopping or phone calls to neighbors.

Supporting Businesses. You can donate to the Berkeley Relief Fund to support low-income tenants, small businesses and non-profits, and non-profit arts organizations or donate directly to a local business. The Berkeley Chamber of Commerce has created a resource guide for businesses.

Eviction Protections. If you have any questions about our local residential and commercial eviction moratorium or housing retention grants for low-income tenants, more information is available HERE. The Council has also passed an urgency ordinance to prevent commercial landlords from increasing rent by more than 10% (see Item #8 HERE).

Price Gouging. Anyone who has been the victim of price gouging, or has information about potential price gouging, can file a complaint with the District Attorney's Office by emailing or calling (510) 383-8600.

Donate Blood. You can donate blood at the Oakland Blood Donation Center (6230 Claremont Ave. in Oakland) where they are using physical distancing protocols, disinfecting between donors, and taking temperatures of donors and staff. Please visit the Red Cross website to make an appointment before visiting. 

Donate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) through the City or through my office.

Food Resources.

  • provides low-cost meals to individuals at high risk of developing complications from Covid-19, and they are in need of volunteers to help deliver meals.

  • Information on additional food resources, such as CalFresh, WIC, and school meals, is available HERE.

Resources for Mental Health and Wellness.

  • The Domestic Violence Resource Guide for Alameda County is available HERE.

If you have specific questions or concerns, please always feel free to reach out to me: or 510-981-7110.
My Website
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