When Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an order Thursday night telling all Californians they must stay home to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, many questions were left unanswered.
Can I walk my dog? I don’t own a car and instead use a bike for transportation — is that ok? Can I exercise outdoors? Can my plumbing business stay open?”
Local officials are trying to provide clarity for constituents while at the same time working to implement the state order that came with few details.
“The state has provided limited guidance as to the meaning of the order,” according to the county.
Riverside County spokesperson Brooke Federico told Patch Friday afternoon that officials are still seeking information from the governor’s office that will help answer questions and concerns.
Based on what is known so far, the county has issued a list of “essential services” that may remain open and residents can go out to utilize:
- Critical government services
- Construction, including housing construction
- Gas stations
- Automotive repair and maintenance including dealerships (sales
- are not permitted)
- Food: Grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, take-out and delivery restaurants
- Laundromats/laundry services
- As well as other categories listed here
Federico said county officials are still working with the state to determine what additional businesses may remain open, including veterinary hospitals, pet food/supply and livestock feed/supply stores. Keep checking the county’s public health website for additional information.
As for outdoor exercise, Federico said people may do so as long as they follow social-distancing of 6 feet or more.
For residents who don’t drive but instead walk or bike for essential services, they may continue to do so as long as social distancing is followed, Federico said.
Friday afternoon the Riverside County Executive Office also issued a news release stating that Riverside County Board Chair V. Manuel Perez has called on county departments to move quickly to implement Newsom’s statewide order.
The governor’s short, two-page order states, all people living in California must stay home or at their place of residence. The order makes exceptions for federal critical infrastructure sectors and the possibility of additional sectors that might be identified “as critical in order to protect the health and well-being of all Californians.”
Under the order, Californians can go out for necessities such as food, prescriptions and health care, or to “otherwise facilitate authorized necessary activities,” but they “should at all times practice social distancing.”
The governor said his order is enforceable under Government Code section 8665. The code states that anyone who “who refuses or willfully neglects to obey any lawful order” is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, could be fined up to $1,000 or imprisoned for six months — or both.
Friday afternoon, Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco released a statement via video stressing the need to follow the order, and he said deputies are working to ensure closed schools, businesses, civic centers and other community centers are protected. See the video on the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page or watch below.
Local city officials are trying to balance the urgent COVID-19 crisis while supporting many local businesses crippled by the state order and a county order issued this week that prevents social gatherings of 10 or more people. Cities are posting services available to residents, such as lists of restaurants offering take-out and/or curb-side pickup. (Follow your city’s social media pages to stay up to date.)
County health officials have stressed there will be many more COVID-19 cases to come as testing for the disease ramps up. Friday, health officials announced there was fourth COVID-19 death in the Coachella Valley.
“We need to stop the spread of coronavirus and that is why I appreciate Gov. Newsom’s stay-at-home order, which applies throughout the State of California,” Perez said. “This will be carried out successfully as we continue to educate our residents on the need to stay home unless it is absolutely necessary. Staying at home is a directive that will save the lives of yourself and your loved ones.”