SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Bay Area residents across six Bay Area counties have been ordered to "shelter in place" until early April, according to an announcement from county officials Monday.
The order applies to all residents in the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, San Mateo, and San Francisco. The six counties are home to more than 6.7 million people. Napa, Solano and Sonoma were not immediately included in the order.
The order went into effect beginning at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, directing people to stay home and keep away from others as much as possible over the next three weeks.
During a news conference at City Hall, San Francisco Mayor London Breed said the three-week order is the "new normal, temporarily to protect public health."
"These measures will be disruptive to day-to-day life, but there is no need to panic. Essential government services like our police, our fire, out transit and sanitation will continue," Breed said.
"Grocery stores, and pharmacies, and banks, and gas stations will remain open. Restaurants will be open for takeout only," she said, adding that non-essential businesses like bars and gyms will close at midnight.
Homeless residents are exempt from the order, but are advised to seek shelter.
The directive which also includes separately the city of Berkeley, calls on the sheriff or chief of police in each community to "ensure compliance" but it was not clear how much the order would be enforced.
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COMPLETE COVERAGE: CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
"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," the order stated. "One proven way to slow the transmission is to limit interactions among people to the greatest extent practicable."
Non-essential gatherings and travel will be banned as part of the order, which also directs residents to work from home or stop working unless they provide an "essential service" like those in the health care industry and law enforcement officers.
Essential businesses like grocery stores, pharmacies, veterinary offices, gas stations and banks will also remain open under the order.
The shelter-in-place order defines essential travel as including travel:
- to obtain necessary services or supplies for themselves and their family or household members.
- to engage in activities or perform tasks essential to their health and safety, or to the health and safety of their family or household members.
- to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons.
- to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and any other related services.
- to return to a place of residence from outside the jurisdiction.
- required by law enforcement or court order.
- required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the County.
"The most important thing you can do is remain home as much as possible," Breed said in a Twitter post. "There is no need to rush out for food or supplies as these stores will remain open."
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo also issued a statement after the shelter-in-place order was announced.
"As the Mayor of the Bay Area's largest city, I support the actions of health officials throughout the Bay Area to enact a 'shelter in place' mandate. We must move aggressively. This is not the moment for half-measures. History will not forgive us for waiting an hour more," the statement read. "The long days and difficult hours ahead will challenge us individually and collectively. This is our generation's great test, our moment to stand together as a community. Amid our collective fears, we will find our uncommon courage."
We are facing an unprecedented threat to our community. And it's a threat that requires our community to answer with an unprecedented response. What we do today will ensure our healthcare system has the capacity to respond tomorrow, and that will literally save lives.," read a statement issued by Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín.
Public health officials around the Bay Area have confirmed at least 258 cases of the virus, including at least three deaths. The Bay Area accounts for more than half of the confirmed cases across the state of California.
"Temporarily changing our routine is absolutely necessary to slow the spread of this pandemic," said Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody. "The health officers from the largest jurisdictions in the San Francisco Bay Area are united and we are taking this step together to offer the best protection to our respective communities."
The number of cases is likely much higher, though, due to a dearth of testing kits.
"Little surprised, since it hasn't happened say in Washington state - it seems to have more cases at this point," said Luke Keel of San Francisco. "But I guess they're just trying to get ahead of it and avoid a crisis where the hospitals don't have enough beds or ventilators to handle people."
"With the shelter in place, I think people are taking it more seriously and I think there's more panic," said Vince Boley of San Francisco.
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