Everyone in the state of California is being ordered to stay at home.
That is the latest directive down from the office of the governor, who announced the "Safer at Home" order on Thursday evening, March 19. The order is designed to "flatten the curve"—meaning it could help slow down the spread of the virus to lessen stress on the American healthcare system as more people become infected with COVID-19.
"We are not victims of fate or circumstance," California Governor Gavin Newsom said Thursday. "The future is something that lives inside us."
Newsom announced the order, which applies to all California residents except non-essential workers, moments after the close of a press conference hosted by Los Angeles County officials that detailed what "Stay at Home" means.
"This isn’t ‘shelter in place’ like a school shooting," LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said during the LA County announcement. "This is, ‘Stay at home because it’s safer at home.'"
Officials at the state and county level emphasized the importance of residents exercising outdoors, going on walks, hikes and to the beach, although the order dictates all activities must take place with proper "social distancing," meaning keeping a minimum of six feet between yourself anyone outside of your household. Gyms and fitness centers will remain closed.
According to LA County officials, the following orders would go into place at midnight on Thursday night, March 19:
- Public and private events of 10 or more people are prohibited
- Requires closures of indoor malls and shopping centers & all non-essential businesses and retailers
- Also requires the closure of all indoor and outdoor playgrounds
The following "essential" businesses will be allowed to remain open:
- Farmers markets, supermarkets, food banks
- Gas stations, banks, financial institutions
- Hardware stores, plumbers, electricians
- Healthcare operators
- Transportation services
- Restaurants (take-out/delivery only)
More information on the order is available on the state's website.
It was not immediately clear how, if at all, the order will be legally enforced. According to the FAQ page for the City of Los Angeles, the order is legally binding.
"This order is a legal order issued under the authority of local and California law. You are required to comply, and it is a crime (misdemeanor) not to follow the order (although the intent is not for anyone to get into trouble, and the expectation is that everyone will comply)," the page detailed.
As for enforcement on the state level, Newsom said, "Social pressure is leading to social distancing"—and the state was relying on social pressure to ensure the order would be enforced.