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Taking A Historic Step, LA County Issues Sweeping 'Stay At Home' Safety Orders. State Follows Suit

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In an unprecedented move aimed at slowing the rate of the spread of COVID-19 here, L.A. County leaders are now asking residents to remain at home and avoid gathering in any enclosed space with more than 10 people. They're also calling on any non-critical businesses that can't operate remotely to shut down until further notice.

The move came shortly before Gov. Gavin Newsom put similar orders in place for the entire state.

Ealrlier in the day, Los Angeles County officials announced the second COVID-19 death locally and cautioned that the number of confirmed cases so far was not representative of how many cases are here since testing remains limited.

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The order is being called the "Safer at Home, Stay at Home" order [which you can also read below.] It bars any public or private gatherings of any size "that would occur outside of a single home," with some exceptions.

"I want to be clear about this," said Mayor Eric Garcetti, "that the only time you should leave your home is for essential activities and needs — to get food, care for a relative or a friend or child, get necessary health care," and the like.

The order goes into effect for most at midnight tonight, Garcetti said.

Any non-critical businesses that require employees to be there in person are being ordered to stop operating after 11:59 p.m. tomorrow (Friday). That includes museums, malls, retail stores, for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations.

Who's exempt? Those whose jobs are critical to safety, health and security of city, as well as an "economy of recovery," Garcetti said. He cited:

  • emergency personnel
  • first responders
  • govt employees
  • medical personnel
  • vital infrastructure workers (including plumbers, electricians and the like)
  • health care providers
  • transportation services
  • grocery stores
  • restaurants (but for take-out or delivery only)
  • news outlets
  • hardware stores
  • gas stations
  • banks and financial institutions
  • plumbers, electricians,
  • dry cleaners and laundromats

But social distancing must be enforced in all of these cases.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger made the initial announcement, saying the order does not mean you cannot go outside at all. Barger said she expected people to still be able to "take a walk, learn a new skill, read a book, videoconference with loved ones, or enjoy open spaces."

"We know that staying home and limiting close contact is the best way to prevent community spread. We know that social distancing does not mean restriction from going outside, and does not mean isolation. We still encourage you to stay connected to your community, and loved ones in creative ways, and to spend much needed time outdoors, people working in essential functions within the healthcare, government, and food industries will still be on the job, but we encourage other employees to stay home."

Garcetti stressed that no one is going to be forcibly kept at home, saying a free society is the "bedrock of who we are."
"But with freedom comes responsibility. And we're asking everybody who, by and large, and overwhelmingly has exercised these directives responsibly to adhere to them. Young and healthy, you're not exempt. You're safer at home."

A cadre of local leaders and public health officials have assembled tonight to detail the new public health order. That includes Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Department of Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, and Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek. Watch live above.



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