Counties in Bay Area Locked Down For 3 Weeks — 6.7 Million People Affected

Six Bay Area counties announced a “shelter in place” order for all residents on Monday — the strictest measure of its kind in the country — directing everyone to stay inside their homes and away from others as much as possible for the next three weeks as public health officials desperately try to curb the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the region.

The directive begins at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday and involves San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa and Alameda counties — a combined population of more than 6.7 million. It is to stay in place until at least April 7. Three other Bay Area counties — Sonoma, Solano and Napa — were not immediately included.

The order falls just short of a full lockdown, which would forbid people from leaving their homes without explicit permission, and it wasn’t immediately clear how, or to what degree, it would be enforced. The order calls for the sheriff or chief of police to “ensure compliance.” In Italy and other places that have instituted lockdowns, travel outside the home has been restricted without permission and police have been ordering people back home if they don’t have a reason to be in public.

“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 states. “One proven way to slow the transmission is to limit interactions among people to the greatest extent practicable.”

The Bay Area orders are the most restrictive yet in the U.S. The region is the first to direct people to stay at home as much as possible and avoid even small social interactions.

In the six Bay Area counties, non-essential gatherings of any size are now banned, along with non-essential travel “on foot, bicycle, scooter, automobile or public transit.” People may travel for shopping for necessary supplies, accessing health care, and providing aid to family and friends who need assistance, and for non-residents, returning to their home outside the Bay Area. Airports, taxis, and public transit — including BART — will remain operational, but only for essential travel and people are expected to keep six feet apart when possible.

People in the six counties will still be able to go shopping for items such as food and household supplies, and seek medical care. They will be able to go outside for walks or exercise as long as they keep six feet away from anyone they don’t already live with. People who are homeless are exempt from the order but encouraged to find shelter.

People who are older or have underlying health problems are being told to stay inside at all times except for health care under the new directive. They should ask someone to shop for them if they are able.

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