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'Stay home': which US states have introduced isolation and what it means for residents

States and counties across the country are grappling with the movement of residents amid the ongoing spread of coronavirus infection. Some officials have introduced shelter-in-place orders in their regions, while others have encouraged residents to “stay-at-home”. Directives vary by location, but generally require residents to avoid all non-essential walks and stay in their homes as long as possible. USA Today.

Photo: Shutterstock

Do not panic: these orders are not a complete ban on leaving the house. Residents are still allowed to complete tasks important to the health and safety of families and pets. You can still buy groceries, run, walk with a dog, visit a doctor, or deliver supplies to work from home.

Federal guidelines give local and state authorities freedom of action in what they consider “essential” businesses during an emergency. In general, these industries include grocery stores and food production, pharmacies, healthcare, utilities, shipping, banking, other government services, law enforcement, emergency personnel, and journalists.

Since each state can designate those businesses that are classified as material, employers must abide by the rules, otherwise they risk paying civil fines.

As of Sunday, March 22, the following orders were issued by state:

  • Delaware Governor John Carney ordered residents to stay at home and closed down state-owned secondary businesses starting at 8 a.m. Tuesday, March 24.
  • Kentucky Governor Andy Bishar ordered the closure of "non-essential" enterprises.
  • Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards issued a statewide home stay order starting at 17 p.m. Monday, March 00.
  • Ohio Governor Mike Devine has announced a state mandate to stay home from 23:59 p.m. Monday, March 23.
  • Philadelphia was the last city in Pennsylvania, whose residents were ordered to stay at home. This mandate takes effect at 8 a.m. on March 23, residents can still go out to buy food and medicine, in order to seek medical help and exercise.
  • In Missouri's two largest cities, stay-at-home orders were issued on March 21. The order begins on March 23 in St. Louis and the County, and on March 234 in Kansas City and the surrounding area.
  • New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell instructed residents to stay home from March 20.
  • San Miguel County, Colorado, Athens-Clark County, Georgia, Blaine County, Idaho are in safe-in-place mode until April 3.

Here's what the new orders look like in every state:


Delaware Governor John Carney ordered residents to stay home and shut down non-essential businesses in the state from 8 a.m. Tuesday, March 24. Residents can leave their homes for medical care, go to grocery stores, go to work if their employer is allowed to continue their activities, and engage in sports with proper social distance.

Car dealerships, clothing stores, art companies, and schools are non-essential businesses that Carney ordered to close. Restaurants will be allowed to continue with delivery.


Governor Andy Bisher announced that some new restrictions would begin at 20:00 on March 23 after the total number of cases of coronavirus in Kentucky exceeded 100. All non-essential retailers will be closed to customer visits, and some services of medical facilities will also be banned.

The order applies to clothing, entertainment, sporting goods stores, shoe stores, jewelry stores, florists, furniture stores, bookstores and car dealerships (although repair and spare parts stores are not subject to the order). The order also does not apply to grocery stores, gas stations, liquor stores, banks, veterinary hospitals, and pharmacies of all kinds.

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Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has issued an order to stay at home, starting at 17:00 p.m. on Monday, March 23, and will affect non-essential businesses and their employees. Grocery stores, pharmacies and banks will be exempted from the order. All public schools, bars, gyms in Louisiana were already closed by previous orders, a new order will expand the closure.

Early Learning Centers and child care facilities that follow guidelines issued by the Louisiana Department of Education and the Public Health Office may continue to operate.


Ohio will join the growing list of states urging residents to stay home at 23:59 p.m. March 23 when Governor Mike Devine’s order takes effect. Devine made an announcement the day before.

The order will last at least April 6th and will be renewed as necessary, Devine said. The rule allows for exceptions, such as visiting a grocery store, ordering services in restaurants, visiting a park (but not using play equipment), caring for neighbors or family members, weddings, and funerals.


On Thursday evening, March 19, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a “hide-in-place” regime for the entire state. He identified 16 critical infrastructure sectors, including those providing food, health and energy, that will remain open. When asked how long an order could last, Newsom said it depends on how people behave and how well the state can contain the virus.

“This is a dynamic situation,” Newsom said. "I don't expect this to last for many, many months, but for now we recognize the next 8 weeks as particularly important."

New York

On March 20, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that all New Yorkers should stay at home “as much as possible,” starting at 20:00 pm on Sunday, March 22. Cuomo called the order the "PAUSE" plan, and he prohibits all non-essential gatherings of people "for any number and for any reason."

Residents can leave their homes for solitary physical exercises or to receive necessary services or items, including trips to grocery stores. In public, they should keep 6 feet (about 2 meters) from others.

Public transportation will work, food delivery and takeaway services will remain open, as will other important businesses such as gas stations and grocery stores. But all workers should stay home if their employers are not on the list of main enterprises.

Cuomo has repeatedly said that the term "shelter in place" is inappropriate to apply to the new order, because most people associate this term with a situation of active shooting.


March 20 Governor J.B. Pritzker announced an order to stay at home, which began to operate on March 21 and will last until at least April 7. All non-essential enterprises should be closed, and all people who can work from home should do so. All Illinois schools will be closed until at least April 8th.

Chicago Mayor Laurie Lightfoot said the order "is not a ban or martial law." Pharmacies, grocery stores and clinics will not close. Airports will be open and garbage will be collected.


On March 20, Governor Ned Lamont announced an executive order ordering all non-essential enterprises and non-profit organizations in the state to prohibit all functions related to contact with people, if possible, from 20:00 on Monday, March 23.

The order excludes healthcare, food, law enforcement, and similar critical services, said Lamont, who calls his directive “Stay Safe, Stay Home.”

The order recommends that people maintain social distance, limit outdoor activities to non-contact options, and limit the use of public transport, in addition to emergency, among other things.

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On March 20, Oregon Governor Kate Brown urged residents to stay home, calling the directive “both an order and a public information campaign.”

“Tonight I am targeting the Oregonians to stay home to stay healthy. Social distancing, done well and on time, can save lives, ”Brown said at a press conference.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said he worked with Governor and Chairperson of Multnomah County Deborah Kafuri to prepare the specifics of the order during the weekend.

“It's not a blockage,” Wheeler said. - It means "stay at home if you don't need to go outside."

New Jersey

On March 21, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced that he would order residents to stay home starting at 21 p.m. He also canceled meetings of any size, including parties, weddings, and religious ceremonies.

“We need you to just stay home,” Murphy said. "We have to change our behavior."

Murphy added that the restrictions will not change “in the near future” and may continue for weeks or months.


Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolfe ordered all "lifeless" businesses to close on the evening of March 19. He issued the order after being granted emergency powers following the declaration of a COVID-19 emergency.

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