In a stunning turn of events Thursday night, California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide “stay at home” order, saying it was needed to slow the spread of coronavirus. Newsom’s directive for the state’s 40 million residents took effect immediately.
“I can assure you home isolation is not my preferred choice, I know it’s not yours, but it’s a necessary one,” Newsom said at a news conference. “This is not a permanent state, this is a moment in time.”
In the first such statewide measure in the nation, Newsom ordered all businesses that do not provide essential goods or services to close their doors. The governor said he issued the directive after being warned by medical professionals that up to 25.5 million Californians will become infected with the virus within the next eight weeks.
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Despite the seemingly crippling shutdown, a number of businesses are exempt.
“We’re going to keep the grocery stores open,” Newsom said. “We’re going to make sure that you’re getting critical medical supplies. You can still take your kids outside, practicing common sense and social distancing. You can still walk your dog.”
Residents can still take trips to grocery stores, gas stations, farmers markets, food banks, take-out and delivery restaurants, banks, and laundromats.
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Newsom, a Democrat who took office in January 2019, said he plans to mobilize the California National Guard for humanitarian services. He added that the “stay at home” order will not be enforced by police, at least for now.
“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. “We are confident that the people of the state of California will abide by it and do the right thing.”
Similar shelter in place orders have been in place in San Francisco and other parts of the Bay Area since Monday.
Thursday night, shortly before Newsom’s news conference, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and officials from Los Angeles County ordered area residents stay in their homes, and nonessential businesses were told to close.
More than 900 people have been infected with the virus in California and at least 19 have died.