Local governments try to mitigate virus spread

Local governments in California have ordered some major changes.

All over the world, governments are implementing a variety of measures to control the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19. These efforts include increased education, curfews, travel restrictions, border closings, sheltering orders, and lockdowns. This week, California’s local governments have ordered residents to make significant changes to their daily lives. Here’s the latest on these local government edicts.

“Sheltering in Place” orders

On Monday, March 16, six Bay Area counties issued a “shelter in place” order that began at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, March 17. The order is expected to continue through at least April 7. The counties affected by the shelter-in-place order include San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa and Marin counties. Solano and Napa counties have not issued similar mandates as of this publication, but San Benito, Santa Cruz, Sonoma and Monterey counties will be following in the Bay Area counties’ footsteps as of today. In addition, cities such as Palm Springs, have issued shelter-in-place orders. 

The “shelter-in-place” order requires residents to stay inside of their homes and away from other people for the next three weeks. People may leave only for essential travel, like getting groceries, attending medical appointments, and caring for relatives in other households. Though individuals are prohibited from gathering in groups, they are permitted to go outside alone or with close family. Health officers are encouraging people to go outside to run, hike and walk their dogs as long as they stay at least six feet away from others. BART will also continue operating for essential travel. 

Businesses providing non-essential services -- like gyms, bars and movie theaters -- must send workers home. Non-essential events are prohibited. Other businesses, like grocers, pharmacies and hardware stores may remain open to provide essential services. Restaurants may also remain open only to provide food-delivery to customers. Healthcare personnel, firefighters, police officers, and other first responders will remain available to work as well. 

Individuals may perform work necessary to the operation and maintenance of essential infrastructure. This includes public works construction, housing construction, airport operations, water, sewer, gas, electrical, oil refining, roads and highways, public transportation, waste collection and removal, internet, and telecommunications systems. This work must be carried out in compliance with “social distancing requirements” to the extent possible. “Social distancing requirements” include maintaining at least six feet of distance from others, washing hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer, covering coughs or sneezes (into the sleeve or elbow, not hands), regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces, and not shaking hands. 

Other restrictions 

Other California cities and counties, including Los Angeles County and Orange County, have issued orders intended to mitigate the spread of the virus but are not considered “sheltering-in-place” orders. Orange County’s Health Officer confirmed that its latest health order is not an order to shelter in place or a lockdown, and all Orange County businesses, except for bars and other establishments that serve alcohol and do not serve food, are to remain open while practicing social distancing consistent with the Governor’s guidance. Restaurants are to close all onsite dining, but pickup, delivery, and drive-through services are permitted. Los Angeles has implemented similar restrictions. Bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, arcades, gyms, and fitness centers are closed, and restaurants a prohibited from serving food onsite, but pickup, delivery, and drive-through food services are allowed.

These are in addition to statewide self-isolation edicts for residents over the age of 65 or whose health is at high risk.

Local and state governments have been working persistently to roll out various measures to cushion the economic impact of these restrictions. These efforts include modifications to paid sick leave laws and government-sponsored subsidies for additional paid sick days. We'll have more on those efforts in another post.   

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