Coronavirus: Everything to know about San Francisco Bay Area's shelter-in-place order

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Nearly 40 million Californians are now required to stay home and limit social interaction, except for essential activities, until further notice, thanks to an order announced March 19, by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

RELATED: Everything you need to know about California's shelter at home order

The unprecedented action is in an effort to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has infected over 5,000 Californians as of Monday afternoon.

The statewide order followed similar action in the San Francisco Bay Area -- where earlier in the week, residents in six counties, and later all nine, were told to shelter-in-place for starting March 17 slow the spread of the virus. Solano County was the final Bay Area county to join the regional shelter order.

RELATED: Coronavirus Bay Area: Shelter-in-place order to be extended until May 1, officials announce

Most recently, six Bay Area counties announced they were expecting to extend the shelter-in-place order set to expire on April 7. Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Mateo and the city of Berkeley, signed a joint jurisdiction to prolong the order until May 3. A few hours later, Sonoma County announced it would also extend the order until May 3.

LATEST LOCAL CASES: Updated number of COVID-19 cases, deaths in San Francisco Bay Area

The public health order, both in the Bay Area and statewide, limits residents' travel, mandates social distancing and substantially limits public and private gatherings. All non-essential travel is prohibited, based on the order.

Social distancing requirements mandate a six-foot distance between others, frequent hand washing, using hand santizer, covering coughs and sneezes, cleaning surfaces and not shaking hands with others.

CORONAVIRUS IN CALIFORNIA: Get resources and information about COVID-19

Newsom's order requires all Californians to stay home indefinitely -- except to maintain operations critical to state infrastructure.

Critical infrastructure includes healthcare, food and agriculture, emergency services and many others.

Here are the highlights of the Bay Area's shelter-in-place order.

Where is this order in effect?

The shelter-in-place order is in effect in the state of California.

For the full Bay Area order, click here.

For the Newsom's statewide order, click here.

Can I leave my home?

Californians are allowed to leave their homes for "essential" services, activities and work only, according to the order.

What is considered an 'essential activity?'

  • Tasks vital to health and safety - including: Gathering medical supplies, medication, items needed to work from home

  • Gathering household items, food and cleaning products

  • Outdoor activity is allowed -- but residents must comply with social distancing requirements

  • Caring for a family member or pet

  • Performing work for an essential business

That includes working in a healthcare, infrastructure, emergency responder capacities such as:
  • Hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmacies, pharmaceutical, biotechnology companies, other healthcare facilities, healthcare suppliers, home healthcare services providers, mental health providers, ancillary healthcare services and veterinary facilities that care for animals

  • Airports, water, sewer, gas, electrical, oil refining, roads and highways, public transportation, solid waste collection and removal, internet, and telecommunications systems

  • Dispatchers, emergency responders, court personnel, law enforcement personnel

On March 31, new restrictions were added to six Bay Area counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, San Francisco and San Mateo. The new rules include:

  • Funerals are limited to 10 people in attendance

  • Playgrounds, dog parks and picnic areas have to close to the public

  • Don't use golf courses, or public tennis and basketball courts

  • When it comes to sports that require you to share a ball, only play them with members of your household

  • Most construction is banned

  • All essential businesses that are still open must develop "social distancing protocol" before April 3

What is considered an 'essential business?'

  • Healthcare

  • Infrastructure

  • Grocery stores, farmers markets, foodbanks and produce stands

  • Farming, livestock and fishing

  • Business that provide shelter, social services and food for those in need

  • Newspapers, television, radio and other media

  • Gas stations, auto supply and repair facilities

  • Banks and financial institutions

  • Hardware stores

  • Plumbers, electricians, exterminators and those who provide safety and sanitation services at homes

  • Mailing and shipping businesses

  • Laundromats and dry cleaners

  • Restaurants -- only for delivery or take out

  • Businesses that delivery or ship food or groceries

  • Home care for seniors, adults and kids

  • Legal and accounting services

  • Childcare -- must be groups of 12 or fewer kids

  • "Providers that enable residential transactions" (like notaries, title companies, and real estate agencies)

  • Funeral homes and cemeteries

  • Moving companies

  • Rental car companies

  • Rideshare services

What is considered 'essential travel?'

  • Travel related to essential activities

  • Travel to care for elderly, children, minors, those with disabilities or other "vulnerable" people

  • Travel to schools or universities to receive meals

  • Travel to home residence from an outside area

  • Travel required by law or court order

What happens if I don't follow the shelter order?

"Violation of or failure to comply with this Order is a misdemeanor punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both. (California Health and Safety Code 120295, et seq,)" the order reads.

Will BART still be in operation?

BART will remain open for riders traveling to and from an essential business. Trains will be long enough to accommodate social distancing protocol, the agency said. On Thursday, BART announced it would be reducing hours because of a 90 percent decline in ridership. Trains will stop service at 9 p.m. on weekdays, beginning Monday and beginning March 28, weekend hours will end at 9 p.m.

What is the impact on other public transit?

Ridership has plunged during the stay at home order, so Muni will stop subway and light rail service. Many stations will be closed and bus shuttles will act as a replacement, providing service on all Muni metro lines.


The transit agency reduced service hours. Starting Saturday March 28, 2020, Saturday and Sunday service will be from 8am-9pm (currently Saturday service is 6am-midnight and Sunday is 8am-midnight). Current weekend train frequency will remain. All riders must be in the system by 8:45pm to have a guaranteed ride to their destination. See the latest updates from the transit agency on their website, here.

Bay Bridge

The Bay Bridge is no longer taking cash payments, at least for the time-being. If you don't have a FasTrak, it's OK. You can still drive across the toll plaza and will receive your bill in the mail instead of paying cash at the window.
This Saturday, March 21, 2020 image shows a sign at the Bay Bridge toll plaza in San Francisco that says "No cash. Check mail for bills."

This Saturday, March 21, 2020 image shows a sign at the Bay Bridge toll plaza in San Francisco that says "No cash. Check mail for bills."


Golden Gate Ferry

Weekend service is canceled on the Golden Gate Ferry.

The ferry has also made scheduling changes due to low ridership. For a full list of changes to the Golden Gate Ferry and Transit systems, click here.

San Francisco Bay Ferry
See the reduced schedule here.

Tourists and residents are asked to not use the ferry for recreational purposed.


The Sonoma-Marin Rail Transit is canceling weekend train service through April 5.

Some weekday trips are also impacted.

South Bay's VTA has suspended light rail service after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. See the latest updates on operation here.

What about parking in San Francisco?

SFMTA says it will temporarily suspend enforcement on: residential permits, 72-hour limit and towing, commuter shuttles, peak hour tow-away and other towing not related to safety or access. They will continue enforcement of parking rules that impact health/safety: street cleaning (as DPW cleaners available), bike lanes, double parking, transit lane parking, yellow zones, meters (groceries, pharmacies, banks and delivery restaurants will be open) and driveway tows.

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