Health officials announced a shelter-in-place order for the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara, as well as the city of Berkeley, which has its own public health department.
The order, which is the strictest of its kind in the country right now, goes into effect 12:01 a.m. Tuesday (March 17) and will remain in place at least until April 7.
“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.”
While a number of residents have already been working from home and making an effort to practice social distancing since the presence of COVID-19 was confirmed in the Bay Area a month earlier, others still continued to gather inside crowded bars, pubs and nightclubs.
On Sunday night, Gov. Gavin Newsom called for the closure of all non-essential businesses throughout California, but that was only a recommendation at the time and not a command.
Businesses and services deemed essential including grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and hardware stores are allowed to remain open. Restaurants are also exempt from the ban but may either offer delivery or pick-up orders or reduce their seating occupancy by half and maintain social distancing of at least six feet distance between customers. Bars, nightclubs, brew pubs and wineries must cease operating until the order is lifted.
“We must all do our part in slowing the spread of COVID-19 within our own communities and across the region," Pleasanton City Manager Nelson Fialho said in a statement Monday after the county’s shelter-in-place order. “Limiting City services will help maintain public health and safety of our residents and employees.”
The new regional order is not a complete lockdown, which would prohibit people from leaving their homes without permission, and calls for local authorities to “ensure compliance.”
The Alameda County Sheriff's Office also announced on social media that they "will temporarily suspend evictions due to the #COVID19 health emergency."
Residents in the six counties will still be able to go outside for exercise, as long as they keep six feet away from people they don’t live with. However, people 65 and older or with underlying health problems have been told to isolate themselves, except to seek health care. The ban does not apply to homeless people, who have been urged to seek shelter.
“This joint action we are demonstrating today in unity to show the importance of how important it is we need to come together as a community and as a region to protect our most vulnerable,” said Dr. Erica Pan, director of the Alameda County Public Health Department, at a press conference on Monday.
“We are here to protect the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions. Together we can slow the spread of disease and protect our parents, our grandparents and those who need us most to help protect them from serious illness and hospitalization.”
Other examples of businesses exempt from the shelter-in-place include food cultivation like farms and livestock, news media services, gas stations, auto repair shops, utility service workers like plumbers and electricians, mail or shipping services, laundry service providers including laundromats and educational institutions as needed.
Danville Town Manager Joe Calabrigo posted a comprehensive update of the Contra Costa County order and its impact on Danville, praising the strategies as a way hopefully help “flatten the curve” of new COVID-19 cases and prevent a surge in the area.
“We’re all blessed to live in this wonderful town. Our strong sense of community is a big part of that, and it is that very sense of community that will bring us safely through this,” Calabrigo said in a statement.
“We understand that anxiety levels are running a bit higher than usual as we navigate these daily changes. A way to combat those feelings of fear and concern is to focus on each other. As a community, we can lean on each other and weather this storm,” he added.
Minimize your risk
Health experts strongly recommend the public follows these steps to minimize their risk of COVID-19 transmission:
* Wash hands with liquid soap and water and rub for at least 20 seconds;
* Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing;
* Refrain from touching your eyes, nose and mouth;
* Stay home when you are sick; and
* Get a flu shot to protect yourself and others from the flu, which has similar symptoms to COVID19.
*People who are healthy do not need to use a facemask to protect themselves from COVID-19. A face mask is recommended for those who are coughing or sneezing to protect others from getting sick.
ACPHD has a webpage dedicated to updates, advice and information about COVID-19 at http://acphd.org/2019-ncov.aspx.