SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday ordered the state’s 40 million residents to stay at home, restricting non-essential movements to control the spread of the coronavirus that threatens to overwhelm the state’s medical system.
“This is a moment we need to make tough decisions,” Newsom said. “We need to recognize reality.”
His move came after counties and communities covering about half the state’s population already had issued similar orders. He said the restriction is “open-ended,” and it could raise false hopes if he predicted how long the order might last.
People may still leave their homes for walks and exercise and for essential needs such as food and medical care. Restaurant meals can still be delivered to homes.
The Democratic governor also announced that he is mobilizing 500 California National Guard troops to help with food distribution, but said they will be in place only for humanitarian reasons.
“I don’t believe the people of California need to be told through law enforcement that it’s appropriate just to home isolate,” he said.
Pennsylvania earlier Thursday ordered all “non life-saving businesses” to close across the state.
Newsom earlier in the day asked the president to deploy a U.S. Navy medical ship to help the state expand its medical capacity and warned that more than half of California’s residents could contract the new coronavirus.
Here are the highlights of the order:
STAY AT HOME REQUIREMENTS
All Californians must stay at home except to get food, prescriptions and health care, care for a friend or relative, walking the dog and taking outdoor exercise such as walking, running or hiking. When people do go out, they should practice social distancing.
Most businesses and business venues such as indoor malls will be closed to the public. According to state health officials, they include dine-in restaurants; bars, nightclubs and other entertainment places where people gather, along with gyms and fitness studios. Convention centers and public events are also out of bounds.
WHAT’S STILL OPEN?
Businesses that provide essential services will remain open. They include grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, pharmacies and other health care providers, news outlets, banks and laundromats. Restaurants can still provide take-out food and make deliveries. Businesses involved in construction and “essential infrastructure” such as plumbers, electricians, gas stations, auto repair shops and hardware stores also are exempt. Public transportation and utilities will continue to provide service.
Misdemeanor penalties apply but the governor said he hopes law enforcement won’t need to enforce the order and believes social pressure will encourage people to “do the right thing.”
HOW LONG WILL IT LAST?
Until further notice, according to the order. The governor didn’t give a prediction but said he doesn’t expect it to extend for “many, many months.”