SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (KPIX 5) — Travelers visiting San Francisco and residents returning to the city on Friday faced strict new guidelines for the mandatory quarantine order that just went into effect.
KPIX 5 spoke to some travelers who found out about the new rules just after they landed.
The timing of the new 10-day quarantine order for travelers is no accident. Christmas is a week away, and health officials know people are going to be coming into the city even though they’ve been told to stay home.
- COVID Surge: San Francisco Case Numbers Still Spiking; City Orders Mandatory Quarantine For Travelers
The only notifications about the quarantine at the San Francisco International Airport came in the form of PA announcements played about once every 30 minutes and digital signs displayed at baggage claim.
The announcement has a specific audience in mind.
“People who live in the Bay Area that were thinking about traveling out of the Bay Area are probably aware of the health restrictions, the requirements. This was really more targeted for people who may be coming from outside California into the Bay Area to inform them and educate them,” said SFO spokesperson Doug Yakel.
The quarantine went into effect at midnight Friday and will last until January 4th.
Irith and Aharon Danzinger arrived Friday morning from Jerusalem and had not heard about the restrictions until they landed at SFO.
When asked if she believed in quarantines, Irith Danzinger replied, “Yes, I do. I’m not so fond of it, but I believe in it. I know it’s bad for economics, it’s bad for a general attitude, but it’s good for being healthier.”
The San Francisco County quarantine order comes on the heels of the one imposed in Santa Clara County before Thanksgiving, but is more restrictive. It applies to anyone who has spent any time outside the 10 Bay Area counties, including nearby Santa Cruz County.
Residents are required to quarantine for 10 days upon returning to San Francisco and cannot leave the house except for medical reasons.
Exemptions include medical workers, first responders, essential infrastructure work or those traveling for medical care, official government business or court-ordered travel.
“I know that this is hard. And I know that this is yet another sacrifice almost 10 months into this pandemic, but we are at a stage that was unfathomable just a year ago,” said San Francisco Director of Public Health Dr. Grant Colfax on Thursday when he spoke about the quarantine order.
Additional details on the mandatory travel quarantine are available on the city’s COVID-19 website.
If caught violating the order, individuals could be charged with a misdemeanor and face a fine or jail time. However, San Francisco city officials offered no details on enforcement, so the focus is on education for now.
Nikki Adgani told KPIX 5 she will be staying in a cottage on her parents property until enough time has passed and she can get tested.
“We all pre-grocery shopped so we don’t have to go anywhere, so hopefully it’ll be a safe situation,” said Adgani.
KT and Branch Johnson-Rotes are headed to Connecticut for Christmas and already have a safety net in place for their arrival back to the Bay Area.
“Instacart, probably. I go to grad school and most of my classmates are in the same building, so we’ve had a mutual aid chat for everyone who needs to stay at home. We’ve been quarantining really well and helping each other out and dropping off groceries by the apartment door, so all contact is as absolutely minimal as it can be,” KT said.
San Francisco resident Paymon Ghafouri told KPIX 5 he was flying out to Texas and would be coming back home in a week.
“As soon as I come back home I have to go to work. My other question would be, who’s going to keep track of that 10 days?” Ghafouri said.
When asked if he was going to quarantine when he returned, Ghafouri replied, “Honestly, I have to say no, I’m not going to.”
Andria Borba contributed to this story.