Photos show what San Francisco looked like the day before residents were ordered to ‘shelter in place’ for 3 weeks to contain the coronavirus

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San Francisco’s Market Street. Katie Canales/Business Insider
  • As of 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, the San Francisco Bay Area is under a three-week “shelter-in-place” order in an effort to contain the coronavirus.
  • The region’s estimated 6.7 million people are directed to stay indoors as much as possible and can leave only for essential needs, like grocery shopping.
  • Bars, entertainment venues, and nightclubs are closed, and restaurants can offer only takeout food.
  • Some San Francisco businesses were already closed the day before the order went into effect, with notices posted on the front windows of bars, restaurants, and even the city’s famous City Lights bookstore.
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The coronavirus disease has become top of mind for millions around the world.

It has spread to 145 countries, infected at least 190,000 people, and killed 7,500. The World Health Organisation declared the virus a pandemic on March 11, and it could take at least a year to find a vaccine that works.

For those in the San Francisco Bay Area, the reality of the virus’ impact just became more stark.

As of 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, San Francisco is one of many Bay Area cities placed under a “shelter-in-place” order to prevent human contact as a means to stifle the spread of the coronavirus.

To be clear, the order is not a full lockdown, such as what both Italy and France, among other countries, have enacted within their borders. People in six Bay Area counties are being 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.

But the restrictions mean that restaurants and bars are shuttering for the duration of the order, and the city streets will eventually mostly clear out, save for the city’s first responders and others who perform essential services.

I stepped out into the city Monday evening, just hours before the order went into effect. I saw businesses already closed, with notices hung on their doors and windows, lines formed to enter grocery stores, and people lugging last-minute supplies and items from their offices back to their homes to gear up for the three-week shut-in.


It was sunny in San Francisco on the day that city leaders in the Bay Area announced that 6.7 million residents would be placed under a “shelter-in-place” order.

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The Transamerica Building and Salesforce Tower. Katie Canales/Business Insider

The order directs residents to stay inside their homes for three weeks to help stifle the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected at least 40 people in San Francisco.

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Source: San Francisco Examiner


People will still be allowed to go out for a walk, run, hike, or bathroom trip for their pets, as long as they keep 6 feet between themselves and others.

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Civic Centre. Katie Canales/Business Insider

And people will still be allowed to go grocery shopping, though that didn’t stop residents from rushing to nearby stores, like Trader Joe’s and Safeway.

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A Nob Hill Trader Joe’s. Katie Canales/Business Insider

There was a line just to get into this Trader Joe’s in the city’s Lower Nob Hill neighbourhood when I visited on Monday.

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A Nob Hill Trader Joe’s. Katie Canales/Business Insider

It was the same scene at Trader Joe’s on Fourth Street near the financial district.

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A line outside the Trader Joe’s. Katie Canales/Business Insider

What people won’t be allowed to do is visit the hair or nail salon.

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A hair salon near the Tenderloin neighbourhood. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Gyms and fitness studios are also closed.

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A Fitness SF sign at the Salesforce Transit Centre. Katie Canales/Business Insider

All nonessential travel via bike, car, public transit, scooter, or foot is banned.

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Market Street. Katie Canales/Business Insider

All entertainment venues are shut down until April 7.

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The Orpheum Theatre. Katie Canales/Business Insider

The award-winning musical “Hamilton” shows at the city’s Orpheum Theatre. A sign posted in the entryway beyond a gate indicated it was cancelled through April 30.

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The Orpheum Theatre. Katie Canales/Business Insider

The city’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium had already been closed when the city banned nonessential events held in city-owned facilities on March 7.

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The marquee read at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider


Public transit will remain open for essential travel.

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The Embarcadero BART station. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Hardware stores are one of the only businesses allowed to stay open throughout the three-week order.

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A hardware store on California Street. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Restaurants can stay open only if they provide takeout food — customers are not allowed to dine in.

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A sign on a restaurant window in Nob Hill. Katie Canales/Business Insider

A sign was posted on the door of a Starbucks in the financial district saying that the store was open for “grab-and-go” only.

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Cannabis dispensaries are also closed for the order. A line had formed outside this one at about 4 p.m. on Monday, with patrons wanting to get in before it was too late.

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A dispensary on California Street. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider, The San Francisco Chronicle


Other shuttered businesses included North Beach’s City Lights bookstore. A notice hung on the window that included an excerpt from a Lawrence Ferlinghetti poem.

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City Lights bookstore on Columbus Avenue is closed. Katie Canales/Business Insider

The city’s bars may be among the hardest-hit businesses.

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Vesuvio in North Beach is usually open from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. It was closed when I visited at 5:30 p.m. Katie Canales/Business Insider

All bars and nightclubs are ordered to close for three weeks.

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Harrington’s Bar and Grill in the financial district. Katie Canales/Business Insider

“Closed until governor lifts it” was written on a menu or brochure that was taped to the front door of Harrington’s, a bar in the financial district.

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Harrington’s. Katie Canales/Business Insider

The city’s pubs would have been gearing up for St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Instead, holiday paraphernalia hung with bar stools stacked on top of tables inside.

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The Royal Exchange in the financial district. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Kells in the city’s North Beach District is also a popular St. Patrick’s Day destination.

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Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub. Katie Canales/Business Insider

A sign was taped to the window indicating that the bar and restaurant was closed. It read: “Trying to do our part!”

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Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Eventually, I reached the city’s hub of tech offices near the East Cut neighbourhood. It was nearly desolate.

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Mission and Second streets. Katie Canales/Business Insider

But this part of town had been cleared out for a while now, for the most part.

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A plaza outside Salesforce Tower. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Tech companies, like LinkedIn, had been increasingly migrating their workforces to remote work in the weeks leading up to the shelter in place.

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LinkedIn’s black boxy building. Katie Canales/Business Insider

It’s an adjustment that many are having to make across the country, with in-person brainstorms turning into virtual meetings.

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A bus with an ad for the videoconferencing company Zoom on Second Street. Katie Canales/Business Insider

When Salesforce instituted a mandatory work-from-home policy for its employees, a whopping 10,000 workers stopped coming into the district every day.

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The Salesforce Tower. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: The San Francisco Chronicle


Salesforce is the city’s largest private employer.

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The tower’s high-rise neighbours. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: The San Francisco Chronicle


Google recommended that its hundreds of thousands of employees worldwide, including in San Francisco, work from home earlier in March before the shelter-in-place order.

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An ad for Google Cloud near Union Square. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider


Farther down Market Street is Twitter’s headquarters. The social-networking giant made working from home mandatory for its employees on March 12.

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The Twitter building on Market Street. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider


Much of the city will come to a standstill until April 7.

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Market Street. Katie Canales/Business Insider

The city’s estimated 883,000 residents will adapt over the coming weeks to a new daily rhythm.

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The Bay Bridge with Broadway stretching out in the foreground. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: US Census