Bay Area jurisdictions issue shelter in place order

The public health officers of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties, along with the City of Berkeley, announced a legal order directing residents to “shelter in place” for three weeks beginning Tuesday.


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The order limits activity and travel outside of residents’ homes to “essential activities” which it defines as activities necessary for the safety and health of individuals and their families. These activities include visiting a health care professional, obtaining medications, or purchasing food or other household consumer products.

The order allows essential businesses such as health care operations, grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, child care facilities, and gas stations to continue to operate. All other businesses must cease activities, except for operations that can be performed by employees working from home.

The order bans all public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside of a household, unless defined as essential. Travel, including travel by foot, car, or bicycle, is prohibited unless it is included in the essential travel and essential activities outlined in the order.

“While the goal is to limit groups congregating together in a way that could further spread the virus, it is not complete social shutdown,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County’s Public Health Officer, in a prepared statement. “You can still complete your most essential outings or even engage in outdoor activity, so long as you avoid close contact.”

According to a press release from the San Mateo County Emergency Operations Center (EOC), health officers issued the order after new data showed increasing local transmission of COVID-19. As of Sunday, the seven jurisdictions that issued the order have seen 258 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 4 deaths.

“Temporarily changing our routine is absolutely necessary to slow the spread of this pandemic,” said Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County Public Health Officer. “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 order calls on sheriffs and police chiefs in the counties to “ensure compliance and enforce” the order. “The violation of any provision of this Order constitutes an imminent threat to public health,” it continues.

Violations of the shelter in place order are considered misdemeanors and can be punished by fine, imprisonment, or both.