6 Bay Area counties enact ‘shelter in place,’ ban nonessential travel

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Public health officers from six Bay Area counties, including Alameda County, announced at 1 p.m. Monday that the region would “shelter in place” beginning 12:01 a.m. Tuesday to slow the spread of COVID-19, colloquially known as the coronavirus.

City of Berkeley health officer Dr. Lisa Hernandez was at the press conference, joining representatives from the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo, Santa Clara and San Francisco. The order will remain in place “for at least three weeks,” according to Santa Clara County health officer Dr. Sara Cody, or until April 7.

During the press conference, Cody said there have been 273 cases of COVID-19 as of 5 p.m. Sunday night across the jurisdictions represented at the conference. 

“Collective action is powerful, and with no vaccine or medicine with COVID-19, our unified actions have the power to slow the virus and to continue to maintain a healthy community,” Hernandez said at the press conference.

The order also restricts travel to only “essential travel,” but public transportation, private cars and airplanes will still be used, according to Cody.  

Grocery stores and pharmacies will remain open, according to multiple members of the press conference, and restaurants are being encouraged to continue delivery services. First responders and emergency services, such as fire departments, will also continue operation.

Individuals are also still able to walk around publicly as long as individuals continue to socially distance themselves. 

“We are in a rough place and we are going to have difficult times ahead of us,” said San Mateo County health officer Dr. Scott Morrow. “The measures we are putting in place are temporary, but they will last longer than any of us want.” 

Many of the plans outlined in the press conference rely on volunteer workers, including food delivery services. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said in the press conference that county officials have been in discussion with food delivery services such as DoorDash. 

Liccardo also said in the press conference that it will take time for law enforcement to maintain the shelter-in-place order, but that he believes most of the population will follow the orders without police involvement. He also acknowledged that this is the first time many city mayors across the Bay Area have heard this shelter-in-place news, and that the details of this regionwide order will be determined by each city individually. 

Hernandez issued a citywide order “directing all individuals living in the city to shelter at their place of residence except that they may leave to provide or receive certain essential services or to engage in certain essential activities.”

A Berkeley city press release states that the Bay Area’s collective cases account for more than half the state’s total number of cases, and that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is going to increase as testing capacity expands. 

“We are facing an unprecedented threat to our community, and that requires our community to answer with an unprecedented response,” said Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín in a statement. “What we do today will ensure our healthcare system has the capacity to respond tomorrow, and that will literally save lives. Our community is resilient, and by taking these actions, we will get through this crisis.”

Check here for live updates on the COVID-19 situation in Berkeley.

Sakura Cannestra, Kate Finman, Emily Hom, Thao Nguyen and Clara Rodas contributed to this report.

Contact the Daily Californian News staff at [email protected].