Six San Francisco-area counties expected to issue 'shelter in place' order

Six San Francisco-area counties are expected to issue a “shelter in place” order Monday as the coronavirus wreaks havoc on the area.

County officials will instruct all residents to stay inside their homes and avoid others for at least the next three weeks while public health officials make efforts to slow down the spread of the new coronavirus, the San Francisco Chronicle reported

The plan is expected to be announced at 1 p.m. PDT, but officials released a draft early to the media and a television station released the information early. 

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Starting at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa and Alameda counties will be required to “shelter in place” until at least April 7. The counties encompass more than 6.7 million people, according to the newspaper.

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

Other counties in the Bay Area, like Sonoma, Solano and Napa counties, were not immediately included in the order. 

The order does not reach the threshold of a lockdown, like in Italy where people need permission to leave their homes. The Chronicle noted that it’s not clear how it will be enforced as the order says that the sheriff or chief of police need to “ensure compliance.” 

Nonessential gatherings and travel have both been banned in the area. Residents are permitted to leave their homes to shop for essentials, obtain health care assistance and provide for family and friends. They are also allowed to take walks and exercise outside as long as they remain six feet away from people who don’t live with them.

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Those who don’t live in the county are allowed to travel to leave. People without homes are exempt from the order but are being urged to find shelter. 

The Bay Area has recorded 251 cases of coronavirus, with more than half of those being confirmed in the last four days, according to the newspaper. 

The counties’ announcement follows California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomSenior citizens deserve better than to be left in isolation Supreme Court denies California church's challenge to state restrictions Supreme Court denies Illinois churches' request for action after state eases restrictions MORE’s (D) declaration that all bars, pubs and wineries will close and restaurants will only be able to take in half of their capacities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that people avoid gatherings with more than 50 individuals for the next eight weeks.