Los Angeles: California becomes the first state in the United States to block its 40 million residents from a coronavirus pandemic.
The statewide directive, which Governor Gavin Newsom said goes into effect “this evening,” is the most dramatic containment measure yet by a US state.
“There is a recognition of our interdependence that requires of this moment that we direct a statewide order for people to stay at home,” he said.
Newsom said that because the pandemic was a “dynamic situation”, no end date for the measure had been set.
According to statistics from Johns Hopkins University, California has been one of the hardest-hit areas of the virus so far, with at least 18 confirmed deaths so far.
About 1,000 Californians tested positive.
Although a mandatory executive order, the measure will likely not be enforced by police, Newsom said.
“People I think recognize the need to do more, and to meet this moment, and people will self-regulate their behavior,” he said.
Essential jobs and tasks such as grocery shopping would be exempt, he said.
“We want people to go to essential jobs — we want people to deal with their essentials in a thoughtful and judicious way.”
Gas stations, pharmacies, banks and laundries are all considered “critical infrastructure” and remain open.
Restaurants can still offer takeaway and delivery services and the food bank remains open.
In a letter to US President Donald Trump Wednesday requesting federal help, Newsom had warned that cases were doubling every four days in some parts of the state.
“We project that roughly 56 percent of our population — 25.5 million people — will be infected with the virus over an eight week period,” he wrote.