On Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered all 40 million residents of California to stay at home as much as possible in an effort to fight the spread of the new coronavirus. This announcement comes on the heels of a similar ‘shelter in place’ order issued for seven counties in the San Francisco Bay Area.
As other cities (including New York) discuss the possibility of adapting similar measures, there’s a lot of confusion flying around about what such an order entails. Below, find a guide to understanding what a “safer at home” order like the one issued in California means for residents.
Why is a “safer at home”—or a “stay at home”—order being put in place in California?
The measure was implemented as a response to the projection that as many as 56% of Californians could be infected by COVID-19 over the next eight weeks.
Can I leave my house at all under a “safer at home” order?
Yes, you can still take walks and perform essential tasks like grocery shopping and picking up medications, as long as you stay six feet apart from other people, per the Centers for Disease Control and and Prevention’s guidelines.
Will any businesses be open?
Most retail shops and corporate offices in California are being temporarily closed, but banks, grocery stores, pharmacies, and laundromats will remain open.
Can I get in legal trouble if I violate a “safer at home” order?
Yes, technically, but according to a tweet from a Los Angeles County sheriff’s official, the department does not plan on making arrests to enforce the order. Newsom did say that California authorities would be “more aggressively” cracking down on hate crimes against Asians, which have gone up since COVID-19 began spreading in the U.S.
Will other states implement “safer at home” orders?
It’s too soon to tell at this point. Gov. Andrew Cuomo rejected the idea of a shelter in place order this week, but tweeted on Friday morning that he would “sign an Executive Order mandating that 100% of workforce must stay home, excluding essential services”; 40% of U.S. COVID-19 cases are located in New York. Barber shops, hair and nail salons, tattoo or piercing parlors and other personal care businesses must close.