San Francisco Bay Area enacts ‘shelter in place’ until April 7, Apple Stores in area likely to remain closed beyond March 27

Things are changing at a rapid pace due to the global coronavirus pandemic, and that’s definitely true in the San Francisco Bay Area in California.

What’s being described as the “strictest measure” of its kind in the United States (via the San Francisco Chronicle), six counties in the San Francisco Bay Area have announced a “shelter in place” mandate. It will go into effect at 12:01 AM, local time, on Tuesday, March 17. It will last for roughly three weeks, at least with current expectations, which means it will come to an end on Tuesday, April 7. The directive is meant to make sure that individuals stay indoors and, most importantly, away from other individuals and groups.

Within the mandate are several counties: San Francisco, Santa Clara, Marin, Contra Costa, San Mateo, and Alameda. All told, that’s a population of roughly 6.7 million. With the shelter in place mandate, they will be asked to stay in place over the course of three weeks, going outside only when absolutely necessary.

(Three Bay Area counties, Napa, Solano, and Sonoma, were not included in the mandate.)

The scientific evidence shows that at this stage of the (coronavirus) emergency, it is essential to slow virus transmission as much as possible to protect the most vulnerable and to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed,” the order states. “One proven way to slow the transmission is to limit interactions among people to the greatest extent practicable.

With the mandate, all non-essential gatherings are now outright banned. Non-essential travel described as “on foot, bicycle, scooter, automobile or public transit” is also banned. People can still go outside for essential needs, including a trip to a grocery store to get supplies, or a gas station for essentials. People can also visit relatives if they are providing some kind of aid, and they can obviously travel for health care needs. For residents who are returning home in these counties, travel is also allowed.

Airports, taxis, and public transit — including BART — will remain operational, but only for essential travel and people are expected to keep six feet apart when possible.

People in the six counties will still be able to go shopping for items such as food and household supplies, and seek medical care. They will be able to go outside for walks or exercise as long as they keep six feet away from anyone they don’t already live with. People who are homeless are exempt from the order but encouraged to find shelter.

As far as Apple goes, this appears to directly impact the company’s plans to reopen its retail stores in the region (and everywhere outside of China) on March 27. Apple announced not too long ago that it was closing all of its retail locations across the globe, outside of China, until nearly the end of this month as a precautionary move to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease it causes. However, this mandate in the SF Bay Area will prevent those Apple Stores from reopening on March 27, as it will be in place until early April.

Apple just posted an FAQ page earlier today that outlines the company’s return and repairs procedures following the retail store closures, which states that the return period will be extended up to 14 days after the stores reopen. It stands to reason that will still be the case in the SF Bay Area, even if the stores have to remain closed for an additional week compared to the others.

So far, two Apple employees that we know of have tested positive for the coronavirus.