The nation’s most populous state is ordering its nearly 40 million residents to stay home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order marks the first statewide mandatory restrictions issued in the United States to help combat the outbreak. It goes into effect Thursday at midnight and includes exemptions for essential services such as public safety and medical care.
Nineteen people have died and more than 900 have tested positive for coronavirus in California. The restrictions, which will remain in place until further notice, come a day after Newsom warned that more than half the state is projected to be infected with the virus in two months.
Essential services will be open
Under the order, essential services such as gas stations, pharmacies, grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores and delivery restaurants will remain open. So will banks, local government offices that provide services and law enforcement agencies.
Nonessential services such as dine-in restaurants, bars, gyms and convention centers will shut down.
Social distance is still required
Even with the order, California residents can participate in some activities as long as people maintain a social distance, he said. “Go about the essential patterns of life, but do so by socially distancing themselves from others and do so using a common sense,” Newsom said. “Home isolation is not my preferred choice, but it is a necessary one. This is not a permanent state, it is a moment in time.”
The order will not be enforced by law enforcement, he added.