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New Public Health Order Requiring Residents Stay at Home Except for Essential Needs

News Release

San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed today announced that the Health Officer of the City and County of San Francisco has issued a Public Health Order requiring that residents remain in place, with the only exception being for essential needs. This measure is necessary to slow the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the community. The Order is effective as of midnight on Tuesday, March 17th and is effective until April 7th, 2020, or until it is extended.

“We know these measures will significantly disrupt people’s day to day lives, but they are absolutely necessary,” said Mayor Breed. “This is going to be a defining moment for our City and we all have a responsibility to do our part to protect our neighbors and slow the spread of this virus by staying at home unless it is absolutely essential to go outside. I want to encourage everyone to remain calm and emphasize that all essential needs will continue to be met. San Francisco has overcome big challenges before and we will do it again, together.”

The Order directs all residents to remain at their place of residence, except to conduct Essential Activities, Essential Businesses, and Essential Government Functions (defined below). When conducting an allowed activity, people must maintain at least 6 feet of social distancing from everyone other than household members.

All businesses, other than Essential Businesses and Essential Government Functions, are required to cease all operations. All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single family or living unit are prohibited, except for the exemptions listed below.

All travel, including but not limited to walking, biking, driving, or taking public transit is prohibited, except to perform Essential Activities, operate Essential Businesses, or to maintain Essential Government Functions. Individuals may go on a walk, get exercise, or take a pet outside to go to the bathroom, as long as at least six feet of social distancing is maintained. People riding on public transit must maintain at least six feet of social distancing from other passengers.

Homeless individuals are not subject to the shelter in place order but are encouraged to seek shelter, and the City will be working with the State, following up on the Governor’s announcement yesterday, to maximize available resources for the homeless population.

Essential Activities (exemptions to the shelter in place order) include:

  • Tasks essential to maintain health and safety, such as obtaining medicine or seeing a doctor;
  • Getting necessary services or supplies for themselves or their family or household members, such as getting food and supplies, pet food, and getting supplies necessary for staying at home;
  • Engaging in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking, or running provided that you maintain at least six feet of social distancing;
  • Performing work providing essential services at an Essential Business or Essential Government function (defined below);
  • Caring for a family member in another household;
  • Caring for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons.

Exemptions. Individuals may leave their place of residence to:
1) Operate an Essential Business, which includes:

  • Healthcare operations, including home health workers;
  • Essential Infrastructure, including construction of housing and operation of public transportation and utilities;
  • Grocery stores, farmers’ markets, food banks, convenience stores;
  •  Businesses that provide necessities of life for economically disadvantaged individuals and shelter facilities;
  • Pharmacies, health care supply stores, and health care facilities;
  • Gas stations and auto repair facilities;
  • Banks;
  • Garbage collection;
  • Hardware stores, plumbers, electricians, and other service providers necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences and other essential businesses;
  • Educational institutions, for the purposes of facilitating distance learning;
  • Laundromats, dry cleaners, and laundry service providers;
  • Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, and goods directly to residences;
  • Childcare facilities providing services that enable essential employees to go to work;
  • Roles required for any Essential Business to “maintain basic operations,” which include security, payroll, and similar activities.

2) Perform an Essential Government Function:

  • This includes all services needed to ensure the continuing operation of the government agencies and provide for the health, safety and welfare of the public.

“As the coronavirus situation continues to change rapidly in our city and region, I want to make sure that all San Franciscans understand that we are entering a new phase in our response. Our response has been grounded in data, science, and facts,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, Director of Health. “Based on what we can predict, now is the time to do everything we can to prevent the situation from getting much worse in a matter of days or weeks. Every hour counts. We need and appreciate the cooperation of everyone who lives and works in San Francisco—and across the Bay Area—to act immediately.”

The Department of Public Health urges people not to rush to urgent care or emergency rooms for COVID-19 testing or non-emergency needs. Do not overwhelm the health system or the emergency response system at this time. We need it to care for those who are seriously ill. If you are otherwise sick or concerned you may have coronavirus, contact your health care provider.

The Department of Public Health has issued aggressive recommendations to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the community. The recommendations for social distancing are intended to disrupt the spread of the virus and protect community health. These are systemic as well as individual changes that will make a difference in people’s lives. Although the recommendations cause inconvenience, they are necessary and worthwhile to reduce the spread of the virus and interrupt its transmission from person to person.

Public Health Orders and recommendations from DPH can be found at sfdph.org/dph/alerts/coronavirus.asp. Mayoral Declarations regarding COVID-19 can be found at sfmayor.org/mayoral-declarations-regarding-covid-19. You can also call 311 and sign up for the City’s alert service for official updates: text COVID19SF to 888-777.

Remember, these are the best ways for all San Franciscans to reduce their risk of getting sick, and preventing COVID-19:

  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Try alternatives to shaking hands, like a wave.
  • If you have recently returned from a country, state or region with ongoing COVID-19 infections, monitor your health and follow the instructions of public health officials.
  • There is no recommendation to wear masks at this time to prevent yourself from getting sick.

You can also prepare for the possible disruption caused by an outbreak:

  • Prepare to work from home if that is possible for your job, and your employer.
  • Make sure you have a supply of all essential medications for your family.
  • Prepare a child care plan if you or a caregiver are sick.
  • Make arrangements about how your family will manage school closures.
  • Plan for how you can care for a sick family member without getting sick yourself.
  • Take care of each other and check-in by phone with friends, family, and neighbors that are vulnerable to serious illness or death if they get COVID-19.
  • Keep common spaces clean to help maintain a healthy environment for you and others. Frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned regularly with disinfecting sprays, wipes or common household cleaning products.

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Contact info

San Francisco Joint Information Center
(415) 558-2712