CALIFORNIA—Seven counties in the greater San Francisco Bay Area issued orders on Monday, March 16 that will force most businesses to close and residents to “shelter-in-place” inside their homes in an effort to combat the Coronavirus.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed called Monday’s order a necessity in order to slow the spread of the virus. The Bay Area is home to the greatest number of cases of all seven counties reporting three deaths in just the two days prior to Monday’s order.
The order was issued by public health officials in San Francisco and six other counties including Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa, Alameda, and Santa Cruz, and also from the city of Berkeley. The actions affect nearly 7 million residents and thousands of businesses. The order was scheduled to take effect at midnight March 16 and is designed to remain in place for three weeks until April 7. The purpose behind the order is to prevent COVID-19 from spreading that impacts hospitals who get overrun with a surge of patients.
In the greater Bay Area, more than 290 cases have been reported in the seven counties impacted by the order, with more than 130 alone in Santa Clara County. Of the 11 deaths reported in California, five have been in the Bay Area. Orders in each of the seven counties are requiring all, but essential businesses to shut down. Police and fire departments, hospitals, grocery stores, gas stations, banks and pharmacies will all be allowed to remain open for business.
Restaurants are being ordered to close to dine-in customers, but can be open for take-out and delivery orders. Other essential work that will be exempt from closure include the media, as well as workers who maintain water, sewer, gas, transportation, electrical and other public systems, including the internet.
San Francisco Police Department Police Chief Bill Scott indicated authorities are asking the public to voluntarily comply with this order, but have made it clear that violations of the health order could be enforceable as a misdemeanor, but as a last resort. While officials understand the homeless population is unable to shelter in place, they are being encouraged and urged to find shelter.
For those worried about going out for outdoor activities, the public order does allow for health activities such as walking, hiking, and running so long as people maintain 6 feet between each other to continue with social distancing.