6 Bay Area Counties Issue Shelter In Place Orders

 couple approaches an empty Cable Car on March 16, 2020 in San Francisco.
Photo credit Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Six Bay Area counties have issued a shelter in place order for all residents as part of the widening attempt to halt the coronavirus outbreak.

Beginning at midnight Tuesday, the order forces 6.7 million people in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, as well as Santa Cruz County, to stay home and avoid contact with others in many circumstances. ​

Under the sweeping clampdown, people are told to stay home unless they are seeking medical care, obtaining food or fulfilling job responsibilities in "essential" businesses. 

The restrictions greatly expand the limitations placed on Bay Area residents as authorities rush to fight the spread of COVID-19.

"This is not the time to panic," said San Francisco Mayor London Breed on Monday afternoon. 

Supermarkets, pharmacies and restaurants serving takeout orders will be allowed to stay open. The orders also permit gas stations, news media organizations, banks, plumbers and many others to continuing providing services, but compels bars, gyms and other businesses to close. 

Essential city services, including sanitation and law enforcement, will continue to operate.

Residents will not be penalized for walking dogs, jogging or spending time in their yards, but they should maintain safe social distances from others, health officials said. 

"You can remain connected to the things you need," said Marin County Health Office Matt Willis, "We're not expecting empty streets, but would rather those who go out are out for those most essential trips to include getting your necessities."

The order will be in effect until April 7.