Updated March 27.
Just days after nine Bay Area counties instructed residents to shelter at home, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide shelter-in-place order on Thursday, March 19, to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
"There is a moment when we need to make tough decisions," said Newsom.
Residents throughout the state are directed to stay at home and leave only for essential activities. The governor did not specify how long the order would last.
The statewide shelter-in-place order broadly mirrors local directives that began rolling out on March 16 in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma counties, as well as elsewhere around the state. The Bay Area orders are currently in place until April 7.
“We know we need a regional approach,” said Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County’s public health officer, at a joint March 16 press conference with representatives from several counties. “We must all do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and ensure our essential services remain intact and open.”
Here is a quick guide to what you need to know about sheltering at home:
What is considered an essential activity?
You can leave your residence to do the following things:
- Buy food, groceries or supplies
- Obtain medical care
- Work at a business that’s deemed essential
- Maintain an essential governmental function
- Care for a family member or pet in another household
It's also OK to engage in outdoor activities, such as walking your dog or going for a run, as long as you stay at least 6 feet away from other people. And while you’re allowed to go hiking or visit parks, read this first.
Essential infrastructure and governmental functions include:
- Health care operations
- Airports, roads, public transit
- Water, sewer, gas, garbage collection services
- First responders and law enforcement
- Telecommunications, including cellphone and internet services
- Construction, including to help house people experiencing homelessness
Public transit like BART and bus lines are open and running, but on reduced schedules — check 511.org for the latest service updates. People should only use transit if they’re engaging in activities or work deemed essential.
Essential businesses include:
- Hospitals, health care operations, pharmacies
- Grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks
- Agriculture and food cultivation
- Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or carry out
- Airlines, taxis and ride-hailing services like Lyft and Uber
- Gas stations
- News media
- Hardware stores, car mechanics, laundromats
- Services required for the essential operation of a home, including plumbers, electricians and exterminators
- Mailing, shipping and delivery services
- Legal and accounting services
- Schools and colleges, as long as instruction is done remotely
- Child care facilities, under certain conditions
- Residential facilities and shelters for seniors, adults, and children, as well as hotels and motels
- Home-based care for seniors, adults or children
All other businesses not deemed essential have been instructed to shut down.
For a complete list, read the state public health officer's list of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers.
Can I go hiking? What about seeing friends?
- Yes, you can engage in outdoor activities for your mental and physical health, so it's OK to walk your dog, hike or ride a bicycle for exercise — as long as you maintain six feet of distance from all other people. However, a recent flood of visitors at popular beaches and parks has prompted officials to shut down several recreation areas. Health officials are now advising people to stay local in their outdoor activities, while many state parks have closed their parking lots to discourage people from crowding the parks. Check out our running list of park closures.
- Gatherings of any size outside of homes and residences are prohibited, except if they’re for essential functions.
- And no dinner parties are allowed either: People from different households or living units should not gather, unless they’re conducting essential business.