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Shelter In Place Order Extends To 7th Calif. County, Driving More Remote Work

A three-week shelter in place order has been issued for Monterey County, which joins six San Francisco Bay Area counties now under the orders amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The expansion of shelter in place orders in California on Tuesday to a seventh county, Monterey County, is expected to continue creating demand for solution provider assistance with remote work deployments, according to one solution provider CEO in the county.

The shelter in place order for Monterey County--an area known for its tourism and agriculture industries--takes effect at midnight tonight. The order is expected to lift in three weeks, just before midnight on April 7, the Monterey County public health officer announced.

[Related: San Francisco Bay Area Shelter In Place Order Adds Channel Uncertainty]

The new order follows Monday's shelter in place order for six counties in the San Francisco Bay Area in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Luis Alvarez, president and CEO of Alvarez Technology Group, which is based in Monterey County in Salinas, Calif., told CRN that he was notified of the order on Tuesday and informed that IT companies such as his would be exempt.

"We're considered to be along the lines of first responders," Alvarez said. "So it's not going to impact us--but it will cause many of our clients who have been hesitating to set up work-from-home situations to actually have to do it now. Basically there's no option if they want to stay in business."

Alvarez said that his company--which also has clients in Bay Area counties already affected by shelter in place orders--had been having a busy week even prior to the Monterey County order. For instance, Alvarez Technology uses the Microsoft Teams collaboration app "pretty heavily," and "now we're teaching our clients how to use Teams," he said. "We have a trainer that we use for that--and he's been in demand, needless to say."

The situation is creating problems for customers that have not moved to the cloud, however, he said.

"We have some clients that have resisted moving to the cloud in terms of email and other services--that are now scrambling and saying, 'We want to do this today,'" Alvarez said.

Alvarez Technology Group is "recommending strongly" that customers supply employees with PCs rather than having them use personal devices, due to security risks, he noted.

"We're implementing some heightened security protocols that we require for them to have as part of the work-from-home policy," he said. "There are going to be enough vulnerabilities as it is. So we need to do everything we can to minimize their exposure--especially when you now start extending the network that was protected by one firewall [to include] 20 or 30 endpoints that are coming into that firewall. It's hard to control what those endpoints look like unless they're supplied by the company and maintained by us."

Procuring new devices currently is challenging, though, as the supply chain is "still heavily compromised" by the impacts of the coronavirus in China, he noted.

Alvarez Technology Group is well-positioned to help customers with work-from-home deployments because the company itself has remote workers across four other states, he said.

"We've learned how to do things over the years, that our clients have never had to do. So they're coming to us basically saying, 'Well what can we do? How do we make this work?'" he said.

Overall, "there's a lot of education going on about the art of the possible with working remotely," Alvarez said.

The outbreak is ultimately a "two-edged sword" for solution providers, he said, "because a lot of the projects that we had in the pipeline, we know now are going to get postponed. So this [remote work assistance] replaces some of that work. But once we once we get through the next few weeks, if things don't start to open up, it's really going to impact our business in a negative way."

On Monday, announcements of Bay Area shelter in place orders came out for the counties of San Francisco, Marin, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda, and Contra Costa, an area which includes Silicon Valley. Those orders will continue through April 7.

While many IT companies have put in place mandatory work-from-home policies to help slow down transmission of COVID-19, the new orders are aimed at keeping as wide a range of people as possible away from potential sources of infection.

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