- The San Francisco Bay Area will be directed to “shelter in place” at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday until April 7 in an attempt to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
- The order will require residents to remain indoors except for essential travel, like going to get groceries.
- The shelter-in-place order is different from a full lockdown, which would prohibit people from leaving their homes without government permission.
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The Bay Area, including San Francisco, will be directed to “shelter in place” until April 7 in an attempt to contain the coronavirus outbreak, the San Francisco Chronicle first reported on Monday.
The directive, which will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, affects six Bay Area counties, including the county and city of San Francisco.
As the Chronicle noted, the affected population totals more than 6.7 million people. They will still be allowed to go shopping for groceries and supplies.
The directive is not a full lockdown, so people will not be prohibited from leaving their homes without government permission. Instead, they’re directed to stay inside and avoid contact with others as much as possible for three weeks. Law enforcement is being asked to “ensure compliance” with the order, according to the Chronicle.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed tweeted on Monday that residents would be required to stay home “except for essential needs.”
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.
— London Breed (@LondonBreed) March 16, 2020
“Essential needs” include obtaining medicine, food, and supplies for household members — including pets — seeing a doctor, and caring for a relative who lives in a separate household.
Everyone must work from home or stop working, except for those providing essential services, like healthcare workers, law-enforcement officials, and firefighters and emergency responders, according to the order.
Nonessential travel on foot or via scooters, bicycles, cars, and public transportation is also banned – though public transit will remain open for essential travel. Walking, running, taking a pet out to go to the bathroom, and hiking are still allowed, as long as people keep six feet between themselves and others.
Gatherings of more than 100 people were already banned last week, but now all nonessential events of any size are prohibited. Bars, nightclubs, entertainment venues, gyms, and fitness studios will be closed. The city is telling residents that trips to the nail salon and dinner parties are also not allowed.
The order is mandatory, and failure to comply will be considered a misdemeanour crime, according to the city.
Restaurants will be allowed to stay open, as long as restaurants provide only takeout food. City and County government services – like fire and police stations – grocery stores, hospitals, banks, pharmacies, hardware stores, daycare centres, and veterinary offices will stay open, with some restrictions. Laundry services will also stay open.
There are at least 272 confirmed coronavirus cases in the Bay Area.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle
The city of San Francisco took a first step in fighting the outbreak on February 25 when Breed declared a state of emergency.
“We see the virus spreading in new parts of the world every day, and we are taking the necessary steps to protect San Franciscans from harm,” she said.
The mayor’s state of emergency allowed the city to prioritise emergency planning by redirecting employees and resources in case of an outbreak in San Francisco.
Since then, companies have steadily migrated their employees to remote work in an effort to stunt the spread of the virus.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines in late February advising businesses to rely more heavily on remote work options, a feat that Google, Twitter, Apple, and others have followed.
San Francisco implemented measures to prevent mass gatherings.
City leaders banned nonessential events held in city-owned facilities for two weeks starting on March 7.
A “nonessential group event” was defined as a gathering of 50 people for social, cultural, or entertainment events “where people are not separated by physical space of at least four feet,” or about arm’s length, according to NBC Bay Area.
The facilities affected by the order included City Hall, the San Francisco Public Library, the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, and the Moscone Centre, a venue in the city’s SoMa district where many tech conferences are usually held. The city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade was postponed as well.
Symphony events and ballet performances were among the types of events cancelled.
Last Wednesday, San Francisco banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people.
“This is necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19, and builds on our previous public health recommendations,” Breed wrote on Twitter.
The ban included events such as Golden State Warriors games.
And on Friday, San Francisco banned nonessential gatherings of 100 people or more.
Santa Clara County, which is also affected by the shelter-in-place order, issued a similar ban on the same day.
Drive-through coronavirus testing was set up in San Francisco.
The sites, where people with doctor’s orders can get a nose or throat swab to test for the virus, are designed to keep people with respiratory symptoms away from medical facilities where they could pass the virus on to others, the Chronicle reported.
The drive-through test sites are run by Kaiser Permanente, the largest healthcare provider in the Bay Area.
San Francisco has taken steps to protect its most vulnerable homeless residents.
People living on the streets are at a higher risk of contracting infectious diseases such as COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, in San Francisco and other US cities. A 2019 count placed the number of homeless people in San Francisco at 8,011.
Many can’t take the recommended precautions to avoid contracting COVID-19, like washing hands often and keeping a distance from sick people, Business Insider’s Holly Secon reported.
San Francisco announced on March 9 that it would spend $US5 million to hire cleaning crews to regularly sanitize homeless shelters, supportive-housing buildings, and single-room-occupancy hotels.
Officials said they would also use RVs stationed throughout the city to house homeless people with COVID-19 for self-quarantines. KTVU, a local Fox affiliate, reported that it would apply to people who’ve tested positive, those who have been exposed to it but don’t need hospitalisation, and those who aren’t able to self-isolate in shared spaces like homeless shelters or SROs, or on the street.
City leaders have also placed 20 handwashing stations around the city.
The best way to fight the spread of COVID-19, as health officials have repeatedly said, is to wash your hands. The CDC recommends scrubbing thoroughly with a generous amount of soap while reciting the “Happy Birthday” song or another 20-second tune.
The stations include soap dispensers and two basins with foot pumps that turn the water on.
Accessible soap and water are designed to help people living on the streets, who often don’t have consistent access to places to wash their hands or clothes.
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