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Bay Area Shelters In Place, Rest Of California Follows Suit

Sona Avakian
As of Tuesday, March 17, all non-essential businesses in San Francisco must close.


Last night Governor Gavin Newsom gave a speech on Facebook. He told Californians he would be extending our restrictions here in the Bay Area, to the entire state. 

It’s unclear if the governor's new guidelines will be enforced. In his speech he also said he’s working with the California Public Utilities Commission to make sure that people who can't pay their utility bills, won't be cut off. He also spoke to the testing shortage.


"Another area of concern, consistent concern is in the testing space. We have increased by a few hundred the number of tests that we provided, just in the last 24 hours in our public labs. Those are the 19 labs that currently are testing. But that clearly is not enough," he said.

The California Department Public Health is reporting 472 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state.  Here in the Bay Area, some facilities are ramping up testing, but most sites require a doctor's note. You can find a list of places in this Chronicle article, or on the California Department of Public Health Website.




Today Napa and Sonoma Counties joined most other Bay Area counties with shelter-in-place orders. That means all non-essential businesses should be closed. 

In Fremont, Tesla’s decided not to shut down, despite the orders. Auto manufacturers aren’t considered an essential service, but the San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that a plant manager told employees they still should come to work. Over 10,000 employees travel to and from the plant.

What Counts As An Essential Service?

There is some debate about whether marijuana dispensaries are considered an essential service. And yesterday I heard there were very long lines at many of them. In both San Francisco and San Jose, city officials say that dispensaries could stay open, as long as they enforce social distancing rules. That means six feet per person.

The shutdown order includes places like gyms, retail shops — except hardware stores — and bars. Bars and restaurants, and their workers are already feeling severe economic impacts. Calvin Louie is an accountant who works with a lot of businesses in San Francisco’s Chinatown.


“I think it’s impacted Chinatown tremendously. People don’t realize that a lot of these restaurants, they bought a lot of food that could last two or three weeks. But now with this closure a lot of this food needs to be thrown away."


Sharing Food

I’ve seen numerous restaurant owners post big signs in their windows saying that they’re still open for takeout and delivery, and I’ve heard other community members encourage each other to buy gift cards and online merchandise for shops, bars and restaurants that have to close.


The San Francisco Chronicle’s food critic Soleil Ho is starting a thread on Instagram where restaurant workers and owners can share info about who is open and who is giving out food to those in need.


Che Fico on Divisadero says they are giving out free dinners for families in need every night. Azalina’s, a Mayalasian restaurant, is also providing free meals to those in need, and free freezer space for other restaurant folks. They say they’re in full swing cooking up meals from all the inventory they can’t use and donating it to whoever needs it.

Jenny G. Shao and Sarah Lai Stirland contributed to this story.