By Rebecca Robbins
Six counties in the San Francisco Bay Area on Monday announced a “shelter in place” order restricting all residents to their homes, with few exceptions, for at least the next three weeks — the strictest move announced to date in the U.S. in the response to the coronavirus.
The order will be effective after midnight on Monday evening and last until at least April 7.
The six counties affected by the order — Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara — have confirmed 258 coronavirus cases, as well as three deaths.
The order allows residents to leave their homes for limited purposes, such as to go to the grocery store or the pharmacy, or to go for a solitary walk or run. It also allows people to leave their homes to care for a family member or a vulnerable person in another household. People who live outside the affected counties will also be able to leave to return to their homes.
People will also be allowed to travel if they work for “essential businesses,” a list ranging from gas stations to laundromats to news organizations. Emergency services and public transportation will also remain open.
The order says that people who are homeless are exempted from the order, though they “are strongly urged to obtain shelter” and governments and other entities are “strongly urged” to make such shelter available for them.
It is not clear how the order will be enforced. The order says that violating the order is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine or jail time and constitutes “an imminent threat to public health.”
The announcement came the same afternoon that President Trump urged the public to avoid “discretionary” travel, frequenting restaurants or bars, attending school in person, and gathering in groups of 10 or more.