How is the 'shelter in place' order working in San Francisco?

Monday six Bay Area counties announced a “shelter in place” order, the most restrictive measure announced anywhere in the United States, in response to the coronavirus. The idea was to completely shut down transmission of the virus by having everyone stay home for a period of three weeks. How is that working out so far? For the most part, people have been going along with it:


The order in San Francisco bans any activities that aren’t essential: no drinking at bars, no haircuts by barbers and no dinner parties. Restaurants can operate only for takeout or delivery. Outdoor exercise is allowed, but gyms are closed.

The city, famous in part because of 1967’s Summer of Love, is full of people who can bristle at authority. But in the first day after the mayor imposed the shutdown order, backed with the threat of jail time, residents didn’t really seem to rebel.

The police department said it wasn’t immediately aware of any significant resistance to the order, which would be punishable as a misdemeanor. Its daily crime recap sent to reporters Wednesday morning — which covers reported crimes with violence or the threat of violence — included a single reported entry from the previous day: Three suspects had punched a woman and taken her bicycle.

Video on social media back up the claim that most San Francisco residents are taking the shelter in place seriously. This video shot Tuesday shows the city looking like a ghost town:

From Wednesday:


And here’s a clip from this morning:

Traffic along the Golden Gate Bridge was sparse:

So the majority of people seem to be staying home. The only people who seem to be pushing the limits of the shelter in place and social distancing orders are people looking to exercise.

The near total lockdown of the Bay Area is not particularly airtight, as anyone who has stepped outside for a hike, a jog, a trip to the dog park or grocery store has found out.

There are people out there, sometimes a lot of people. That jarring discovery is being made by quite a few of the people disregarding shelter-in-place orders. That sneaky excursion into what was supposed to be a vacant, abandoned landscape consistently includes other individuals doing the same thing.

There have been reports of elbow-to-elbow joggers on the Embarcadero, clusters of dog walkers chewing the fat in the park and scores of people admiring the view of the bay from Fort Mason’s Great Meadow — all folks who could potentially spread the coronavirus.


Tuesday, Jake Tapper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta discussed images of joggers, walkers, and roller-bladers passing one another along the Embarcadero.

“We see a whole bunch of people here who are not distancing. They’re holding hands and walking down the street and you know, normally, I’d say ‘bravo,’ but this is actually kind of enraging,” Tapper said.

“Many people in San Francisco have clearly not gotten the message.”

An official in San Francisco called it “outdoor shaming.”

Phil Ginsburg, general manager of San Francisco’s Recreation and Park Department, said in an email that, in addition to being in line with recommendations of health officials, outdoor activities — with proper social distancing — were “critical” for mental health and physical well-being..

“We really need to stay away from some of the ‘outdoor shaming’ going on right now. The shelter order is written specifically to allow runs, bike rides and walks in our parks because they are good for you and because we trust the citizens to get outside in a way that is safe for themselves and for their neighbors,” he said.

In any case, there were reportedly a lot fewer people jogging along the Embarcadero Wednesday, whether from shame or because the temperature had dropped a bit. Here’s the full clip from CNN:


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