San Francisco puts in place mandatory 10-day quarantine for those coming from outside Bay Area

San Francisco on Thursday imposed a mandatory 10-day quarantine for people returning to the city from anywhere outside of the Bay Area. 

The new health order discourages unnecessary travel as San Francisco sees a surge in COVID cases and ICU beds near capacity. Those who are traveling for critical needs or activities are exempt, authorities said. 

"We must do whatever we can to contain the virus and stop its circulation in our community. Now is not the time to travel and risk being exposed or exposing others," San Francisco Mayor London Breed said. "We need to do the right thing to protect ourselves, our neighbors and our loved ones and make sure that we can celebrate together when this is over."

San Francisco officials said anyone who comes from outside San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano, Sonoma, Napa, Marin, and Santa Cruz counties must quarantine. This includes returning residents, people moving to San Francisco, those who work in San Francisco, and visitors.

The travel quarantine order allows exemptions for medical professionals, first responders, official government business, essential infrastructure work, and other activities, including any travel to receive medical care or travel required by a court order.

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Those who have to quarantine must stay home without physical interaction with people outside their household. Per the health order, they are not allowed to work, school, or any other venue outside their home for any reason. The only exception is a medical emergency. 

The travel order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 18 and will remain in effect until 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 4, 2021. 

San Francisco isn't the first Bay Area county to impose a mandatory quarantine after long-distance travel. On Nov. 28, Santa Clara County issued a travel order requiring a 10-day quarantine for anyone arriving from areas more than 150 miles from the county's borders.

Nonessential travel within the Bay Area is also strongly discouraged due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, that local health leaders say threatens the region’s ability to provide intensive care for critically ill patients. 

On Wednesday, the Bay Area's ICU capacity dropped to 12.9%, below the 15% threshold, triggering a stay-at-home order.