San Francisco on Monday issued a public health order requiring all residents to stay home as the city and county strives to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Residents are asked to only leave their homes for “essential needs,” which include visiting a doctor, getting food and supplies, and caring for a family member in another household, among other activities, according to Mayor London Breed’s office. Click here for a detailed breakdown of "essential needs."
The order takes effect midnight Tuesday and will remain in effect until April 7, or until it is extended, according to the mayor’s office.
"We know these measures will significantly disrupt people’s day to day lives, but they are absolutely necessary," Breed said in a statement. "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."
When people are conducting an essential activity, they are instructed to keep at least six feet of space between themselves and those who are not household members.
Essential stores such as grocery markets, pharmacies, banks and gas stations will remain open, the mayor's office said. Restaurants will be limited to takeout and delivery only. Gyms, bars and other non-essential stores will close.
Homeless residents are exempt from the order but are advised to seek shelter.
San Francisco joins five other Bay Area counties in implementing the stay-at-home order.
According to San Francisco Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax, the six counties' health officers agreed upon the widespread shelter-in-place order after meeting over the weekend.
"The evidence tells us that now is the time to implement this step," said Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax. "Based on what we can predict, now is the time to do everything we can to prevent the situation from getting much worse in a matter of days or weeks. Every hour counts."
Colfax also urged residents to remain calm and not to cause any unnecessary strain on city services.
"Please do not go to urgent care or emergency rooms for COVID-19 testing or non-emergency needs. Do not overwhelm the health care system or the emergency response systems at this time. We need these services to care for those who are seriously ill. If you are otherwise sick or concerned that you may have coronavirus, please contact your health care provider," he said.
Despite the order, Colfax said residents can still walk their dogs or go on walks, in addition to conducting essential services like banking or getting food, as long as they keep six feet distance from others. Regular hand washing and cleaning high-touch surfaces is also urged as a precaution against COVID-19.
Although the order is enforceable by law and failure to abide by it could result in a misdemeanor, San Francisco police Chief Bill Scott said the department is asking residents for voluntary compliance.
"This is not about a criminal justice approach to a public health issue," Scott said. "This is about educating the public. This is about social distancing and practicing those safe protocols. And we will be a part of that education process."