Effective Tuesday, March 17 at 12:01 a.m., residents of six counties, including Santa Clara County, are ordered to shelter in place at their place of residence in order to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The shelter in place order is in effect for three weeks.
County Health Officer and Director of the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department Dr. Sara Cody called Santa Clara County the coronavirus “epicenter” in the Bay Area and the County Health Department expects coronavirus to spread quickly.
The shelter in place order was made to preserve the area’s health care infrastructure, according to Dr. Cody.
Residents of Santa Clara County as well as Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Marina County, San Mateo County, the City of Berkeley, and City and County of San Francisco are all placed under a shelter in place, as announced at today’s press conference by the counties’ Health Department directors.
Essential services are allowed to remain open, however, non-essential businesses are ordered to cease activities. Some detail is currently available to what business is considered “essential,” but more to come. Essential services include:
- Health Offices
- Grocery Stores
- Restaurants (to-go or delivery)
- Hardware stores
- Gas Stations
Outside what is mentioned in the County’s list on their website, the cities are the ones making the decision to what is considered “essential.” When visiting a business or receiving service, the Health Department says to practice social distancing.
In the included counties, non-essential gatherings of any size are now banned. They encourage residents to stay home and practice social distancing — at least six feet — with anyone they don’t live with. The homeless are exempt from the order but encouraged to find shelter and government agencies are encouraged to make shelter available.
They also banned non-essential travel on foot, bicycle, scooter, automobile or public transit. Residents are allowed to make essential trips for shopping for necessary supplies, to access health care, and to provide aid to those who need assistance. Airports, taxis and public transit — including VTA and BART — will remain operational for essential travel, however, people are expected to keep six feet apart when possible.
During the shelter in place, Residents are allowed to go outside for walks or exercise as long as they keep six feet away from anyone they don’t already live with.
According to Dr. Cody, the goal is to keep residents in small, stable groups and avoid mixing, thus hopefully slow the spread of coronavirus.
Dr. Cody said she recognizes that the rules are complicated. She said that these shelter in place guidelines were crafted quickly. A detailed FAQ will be released to help clear up any gray areas.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said that the City of San Jose will lead the charge to help provide meals to the County’s most in-need. He said systems will be put in place within the next hours and days, so specific details were not available.
“There is going to be food,” said Liccardo.
Police enforcement was mentioned at the press conference, however, officials said that they don’t want to rush directly to enforcement until they can figure out what residents can expect of themselves. The official order says, “Violation of or failure to comply with this Order is a misdemeanor punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.”
For more information on the shelter in place order, visit the Santa Clara County Health Department’s website: https://www.sccgov.org/sites/phd/Pages/phd.aspx