States urge citizens to stay at home, businesses to suspend in-person operations

States urge citizens to stay at home, businesses to suspend in-person operations
© Getty Images

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) on Monday announced “safer at home” orders for their respective states, while Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) called on all businesses and organizations providing nonessential services to close their physical office spaces.

“Over the past few days, I’ve talked with public health experts and with business leaders and local elected officials around the state. Overwhelmingly the response I heard is that we need an all-hands-on-deck approach to stopping the spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin,” Evers said in a series of tweets Monday morning.

“People across our state are still out and about unnecessarily that are putting our friends, our neighbors, and our communities at risk. Please #StayHome and help us save lives,” Evers added. “We also need folks to limit their interactions to the same people, not different small groups. Shrinking your circle of interactions will help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately that means no sleepovers, no play dates, and no dinner parties with friends and neighbors.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Whitmer announced a similar order in a news conference Monday, saying “Our aggressive action today will help mitigate how many people get sick and how long our economy suffers.”

“This is a test unlike any we’ve seen before. We are up to it,” she added. Whitmer’s order requires all businesses and operations in the state to suspend in-person operations that are not required to protect or sustain life and calls on residents to stay inside unless they are part of critical infrastructure workforce or engaged in activities necessary for health and safety such as grocery shopping or going to the hospital.

Baker, meanwhile, issued a less stringent “stay-at-home advisory” Monday, tweeting “Residents are advised to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel and other unnecessary activities.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) issued a similar order Monday, banning "all non-essential social and recreational gatherings of individuals" where a distance of six feet between each participant cannot be maintained, and closing businesses that require close contact such as barber shops, gyms and theaters, while also calling on citizens to stay home "whenever possible."

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R), meanwhile, issued a "stay at home" order Monday barring going to work unless providing an essential service or visiting friends and family "if there is no urgent need."

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced that public schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year, also announcing the closure of gyms, theaters and bowling alleys.

"By [Tuesday] our Department of Education will issue guidance to help school divisions think through those decisions and ensure that every student is served equitably," Northam said in a Monday press conference. "We're already working on waivers to relieve testing requirements, and ensure that our students who were on track to graduate can do so. I understand that for many families, these closures present practical considerations of who will care for children during the day now that they are not in school."

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) on Monday also announced a stay-at-home order to apply from Tuesday, March 24 through April 6 and subject to extension. Grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, police and fire stations, health care facilities and public transit will remain open and active.

"Staying home is critical to reducing the spread of COVID-19 in your community. Adhering to the order will save lives, and it is the responsibility of every Hoosier to do their part," Holcomb said in a statement. "However, if the order is not followed, the Indiana State Police will work with local law enforcement to enforce this order. The Indiana State Department of Health and the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission will enforce the restaurant and bar restrictions."

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan GrishamMichelle Lynn Lujan GrishamBiden pick creates furor, underscoring bitterness over Obama immigration policy Buttigieg, former officials added to Biden's transition team No documents? Hoping for legalization? Be wary of Joe Biden MORE (D) announced that the state will follow suit with a stay-at-home order that starts Tuesday at 8 a.m. All residents will be instructed to stay home except for "outings essential to health, safety, and welfare."

She said businesses "deemed essential to public health, safety and well-being" will not close, including health care services, grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, utilities, child care for essential workers, banks and credit unions, shelters, emergency services and infrastructure operations. 

"Our society must continue to operate – but in an extremely limited way," she posted.

Washington state Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeBarr asked prosecutors to explore charging Seattle mayor over protest zone: report Bottom line Oregon senator says Trump's blame on 'forest management' for wildfires is 'just a big and devastating lie' MORE (D) also issued a similar order for residents in a televised announcement Monday. Residents may leave if they are “pursuing an essential activity,” like grocery shopping, doctors appointments and essential work duties. 

Inslee's order will go into effect immediately and last for at least two weeks, he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The fastest way to get back to normal is to hit this hard,” the governor said during his address.

The states follow several others that have taken the dramatic step, including Louisiana, Ohio, Delaware and New York.