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Stay at Home Except for Essential Needs

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Essential Businesses and Services Remain Open. Please Stay Home Whenever Possible.
Article posted: March 24, 2020, 4:00 p.m.

Feeling confused about what is and isn't "essential" and, thus, allowed to remain open for business under CA Governor Gavin Newsom's March 19 executive order? State officials have put together a helpful FAQ to clear things up. Here are some highlights, but click the link at the bottom to read the whole thing:

When does the stay at home order go into effect and how long will we stay home? What areas of the state are covered?

The order went into effect on Thursday, March 19, 2020. The order is in place until further notice. It covers the whole state of California, and it exempts activity as needed to maintain continuity of operation of the federal critical infrastructure sectors, critical government services, schools, childcare, and construction, including housing construction.

What can I do? What’s open?

Essential services will remain open, such as:

  • Gas stations 
  • Pharmacies
  • Food: Grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, take-out and delivery restaurants 
  • Banks 
  • Laundromats/laundry services 
  • Essential state and local government functions will also remain open, including law enforcement and offices that provide government programs and services.

What’s closed?

  • Dine-in restaurants 
  • Bars and nightclubs 
  • Entertainment venues 
  • Gyms and fitness studios 
  • Public events and gatherings 
  • Convention Centers
  • Hair and nail salons

Health care and helping sick relatives

What if I need to visit a health care provider?

If you are feeling sick with flu-like symptoms, please first call your doctor, a nurse hotline, or an urgent care center. 

If you need to go to the hospital, call ahead so they can prepare for your arrival. If you need to call 911, tell the 911 operator the exact symptoms you are experiencing so the ambulance provider can prepare to treat you safely.

What about routine, elective or non-urgent medical appointments?

Non-essential medical care like eye exams, teeth cleaning, and elective procedures must/should be cancelled or rescheduled. If possible, health care visits should be done remotely.

Contact your health care provider to see what services they are providing.

May I still go out to get my prescriptions?

Yes. You may leave their homes to obtain prescriptions or get cannabis from a licensed cannabis retailer.

Can I leave home to care for my elderly parents or friends who require assistance to care for themselves? Or a friend or family member who has disabilities?

Yes. Be sure that you protect them and yourself by following social distancing guidelines such as washing hands before and after, using hand sanitizer, maintaining at least six feet of distance when possible, and coughing or sneezing into your elbow or a tissue and then washing your hands. If you have early signs of a cold, please stay away from your older loved ones.

Can I visit loved ones in the hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility, or other residential care facility?

Generally no. There are limited exceptions, such as if you are going to the hospital with a minor who is under 18 or someone who is developmentally disabled and needs assistance. For most other situations, the order prohibits non-necessary visitation to these kinds of facilities except at the end-of-life. This is difficult, but necessary to protect hospital staff and other patients.

Outdoor recreation

Can I still exercise? Take my kids to the park for fresh air? Take a walk around the block?

Yes. So long as you are maintaining a safe social distance of six feet from people who aren’t part of your household, it is ok to go outside for exercise, a walk or fresh air. Gyms are closed.

Can I walk my dog? Take my pet to the vet?

You can walk your dog. You can go to the vet or pet hospital if your pet is sick. Remember to distance yourself at least six feet from other pets and owners.

Can people still go hiking or visit State Parks?

Californians can walk, run, hike and bike in their local neighborhoods as long as they continue to practice social distancing of 6 feet. This means avoiding crowded trails & parking lots. To help reduce crowds, State Parks is modifying operations at some parks, including closing vehicular access and parking lots to reduce density of visitors. A list of closures can be found at www.parks.ca.gov/flattenthecurve. Everyone has the responsibility to “Flatten the COVID-19 Curve at Parks” by maintaining a social distance of 6 feet or more when recreating in the outdoors, and staying home if they are sick. If visitors cannot maintain social distancing, they need to leave the park.

For information on National Parks, please visit their website here.


Read the rest of the FAQ, including questions and answers about taxes:
 click here.

Read Gov. Newsom's full executive order: click here.

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