SAN FRANCISCO—On Monday, March 16, the Health Officer of the City and County of San Francisco, Tomás Aragón, issued a Public Health Order barring city residents from leaving their homes to prevent the further spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). 

It goes into effect on midnight on Tuesday, March 17 and remains effective until April 7, unless otherwise extended.

During this time, non-essential businesses like gyms and bars are closed as residents follow the shelter in place. All “Essential Businesses” and “Essential Government Functions” remain operable for residents to use.

This includes, but is not limited to, grocery stores, pharmacies and health care facilities, banks, laundromats, garbage collection, hardware stores, mailing services, gas stations, dentists and hospitals, and restaurants or facilities that prepare and serve food for delivery or carry out.

In addition to the use of these facilities, citizens may conduct other “Essential Activities” to maintain the health and safety of themselves or others. 

“Engaging in outdoor activity” such as walking or hiking is permitted, as long as a social distancing of at least six feet is maintained.

While public transit, including MUNI and BART, remains operational, only “Essential Travel” can be conducted. This includes travel to care for others, educational institutions for distance learning or meals, and return to residence from performing essential activities and functions.

Failure to comply with the shelter in place is considered a misdemeanor— the Public Health Order does not specify how, or if citizens will be checked for compliance. Residents are expected to maintain social distancing requirements when possible.

Individuals facing homelessness are exempt, but are strongly encouraged to seek shelter.

According to a statement from the Mayor’s Office, “The City will be working with the State…to maximize available resources for the homeless population.”

The San Francisco Department of Public Health warns the public “not to rush to urgent care…for COVID-19 testing or non-emergency needs” to prevent overwhelming the health system and restricting help for those who are seriously ill.