Los Angeles is following other California counties and cities in issuing an order mandating that residents stay at home to limit the community spread of the novel coronavirus.
In announcing the “safer-at-home” order this evening, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger implored residents “not to panic.” She said residents will still be able to go for walks and shop for groceries and pick up medicine.
It “does not mean restrictions from going outside,” Barger said, and it “does not mean isolation.”
But at midnight, all non-critical businesses, including indoor malls and playgrounds, must close, and gatherings of 10 or more people will be prohibited. The county had already ordered the closure of bars, movie theaters, and entertainment venues. Restaurants are take-out only.
Grocery stores, healthcare providers, outdoor farmers markets, gas stations, and dry cleaners can stay open. Electricians, plumbers, healthcare operators, and transportation services are allowed to keep operating. But they all must institute social distancing practices, according to Los Angeles County Health Department director Dr. Barbara Ferrer.
LA County residents had already been urged to hunker down. But officials had not gone so far as to mandate it. Residents who violate health orders can be cited for a misdemeanor.
“This is not a request—this is an order,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.
“I know how stressful this is to each one of us… we’re about to enter into a new way of living in Los Angeles for a period,” the mayor said, noting that he made the decision with a “heavy heart.”
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.