Some 6.7 million denizens of San Francisco’s Bay Area are being told to “shelter in place” in an effort to curb the coronavirus outbreak. According to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle, the directive will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on March 17 and remain until April 7. Among the six counties that have been so ordered, Santa Clara logged 37 COVID-19 cases so far and one related death.
The report says that this is different than a full lockdown, “which would forbid people from leaving their homes without explicit permission, and it wasn’t immediately clear how, or to what degree, it would be enforced.” However, the chief of police or the sheriff has the authority to “ensure compliance”—in other words, make sure that people are only going to get essential food or medicine or seeing a healthcare practitioner.
Italy, one of the hotbeds of the outbreak, had implemented similar measures as of March 9. Citizens of the entire country have to obey strict limits on travel and gatherings. Spain followed by issuing a nationwide lockdown that shuttered any nonessential businesses. France also mandated that shops, restaurants, and theaters close to the public.
In New York City, the largest public school district in the nation closed, and some online-learning provisions are being made for some 1.1 million students over the next five weeks. In the surrounding tri-state area, governors of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut banned gatherings of more than 50 people and ordered nonessential businesses to close.