San Francisco to ‘Shelter in Place’ Over Coronavirus, Says Mayor

March 16, 2020 Updated: March 16, 2020
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San Francisco and several nearby California counties were directed to shelter in place starting 12:00 a.m. on Tuesday until April 7, in an attempt to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Effective at midnight, San Francisco will require people to stay home except for essential needs. Necessary government functions & essential stores will remain open. These steps are based on the advice of public health experts to slow the spread of COVID19,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced.

The same rule applies Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa, and Alameda counties, which are located in the San Francisco Bay Area, Breed said, according to officials, reported The Associated Press.

“We know these measures will significantly disrupt people’s day to day lives, but they are absolutely necessary,” Breed said in a news release. “This is going to be a defining moment for our City and we all have a responsibility to do our part to protect our neighbors and slow the spread of this virus by staying at home unless it is absolutely essential to go outside. I want to encourage everyone to remain calm and emphasize that all essential needs will continue to be met. San Francisco has overcome big challenges before and we will do it again, together.”

People should work from home unless they provide essential services like medical services, sanitation, and public safety, authorities said. Homeless people aren’t subject to the new rule but are encouraged to seek shelter, Breed’s office said.

All travel including driving, biking, walking, and taking public transit is not allowed unless performing essential activities or essential business.

But the news release stressed that “individuals may go on a walk, get exercise, or take a pet outside to go to the bathroom, as long as at least six feet of social distancing is maintained. People riding on public transit must maintain at least six feet of social distancing from other passengers.”

“The scientific evidence shows that at this stage of the (coronavirus) emergency, it is essential to slow virus transmission as much as possible to protect the most vulnerable and to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed,” a city order stated, reported the San Francisco Chronicle. “One proven way to slow the transmission is to limit interactions among people to the greatest extent practicable.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Sunday that people who are 65 and older and people with health problems should isolate themselves from the virus. He also called on bars, wineries, and nightclubs to shut down.