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The San Francisco Bay Area’s 28,200 homeless are left in limbo as officials order residents to stay indoors for 3 weeks in an effort to contain the coronavirus


  • The San Francisco Bay Area will be directed to “shelter in place” at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday until April 7 in an attempt to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
  • The order will require residents to remain indoors except for essential travel, like going to get groceries.
  • It will affect about 6.7 million people in the region, but the estimated 28,200 people living homeless on the streets are exempt and are encouraged to seek shelter until officials can find ways to house them.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

San Francisco Bay Area residents are being directed to “shelter in place” until April 7 in an attempt to contain the coronavirus outbreak, the San Francisco Chronicle first reported on Monday.

The directive is not a full lockdown, so people will not be prohibited from leaving their homes without government permission. Instead, they’re directed to stay inside and avoid contact with others as much as possible for three weeks. Law enforcement is being asked to “ensure compliance” with the order, according to the Chronicle.

The order will affect about 6.7 million people across six counties. The region’s estimated 28,200 homeless individuals, however, are exempt, according to the Chronicle. They are instead encouraged to seek shelter, and city officials will try to find ways to house them.

The region’s most vulnerable residents are the city’s homeless population.

A man sleeps on a San Francisco sidewalk.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Those living on the streets are more at risk of contracting infectious diseases, such as the coronavirus, in San Francisco and in other US cities. A 2019 count placed the number of homeless individuals in San Francisco at 8,011. 

Many don’t have the luxury of taking the recommended precautions to avoid contracting COVID-19, like handwashing and keeping a distance from sick people, as Business Insider’s Holly Secon reported. 

San Francisco announced March 9 that it was spending $5 million to hire cleaning crews to regularly sanitize homeless shelters, supportive housing buildings, and SROs daily.

A homeless man sleeps in the park across from San Francisco city hall February 28, 2007 in San Francisco, California.

Justin Sullivan/Getty

The city also will use RVs stationed throughout the city to house members of its homeless population who are infected with the coronavirus for self-quarantine.

The office of Mayor London Breed announced the plan last Tuesday. According to KTVU, a local station, it will apply to people who’ve tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus; those who have been exposed to it but don’t need hospitalization; and those who aren’t able to self-isolate in shared spaces like homeless shelters, SROs, or on the street.

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