Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and other city and county officials on Thursday announced the “safer at home” public order in response to COVID-19, requiring more than 10 million people to stay at home and most businesses to close.
The order will go into effect in L.A. County — the nation’s most populous county — at midnight. It is tentatively set to last until April 19, according to the city of L.A.’s website.
All businesses that require workers to be present must stop operations by 11:59 p.m. Thursday, Garcetti said during a news conference. Employees and owners will be granted an additional 24 hours of access to their businesses to gather belongings, according to the city’s website.
Businesses that provide “essential services” are exempt.
Minutes after the announcement, Gov. Gavin Newsom instated a similar measure for all of California, saying people should stay at home as much as possible.
Garcetti said “today is a day that will be seared into the story and the streets” of the city and will be a “moment when everything changed.”
The only time people should leave their home is for essential activities like getting food or taking care of a loved one, according to the mayor.
“This is not a shelter-in-place. It’s a ‘stay at home’,” Garcetti said.
He emphasized that this is a health emergency and nobody is on lockdown.
Although “safer at home” is a legally enforceable order and violation is a misdemeanor, the mayor said during the news conference that he didn’t expect people would be arrested.
“We know that social distancing does not mean restriction from going outside and does not mean isolation,” county Supervisor Kathryn Barger said at the announcement.
She said people should refrain from gathering in a closed space with more than 10 people.
The briefing came after Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday that half of Californians could get infected with coronavirus over the next eight weeks. The governor asked Congress for $1 billion to support the state’s medical response against the virus.
A second person died in L.A. County Thursday, and an additional 40 cases were reported, bringing the total to 230 patients.
Throughout the state, there are 1,001, confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 19 deaths.
The latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as of noon Thursday show that there are 10,442 diagnosed cases in the U.S., with 150 deaths.