Friday, March 1, 2024

What is a ‘shelter in place’ order? Will it happen in the Wilmington area? [Free read]

Those who are able to work from home are already being asked to do so to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. (Port City Daily/File)

NORTH CAROLINA — Concerns over the novel coronavirus and its seemingly exponential spread across the world have led to governments taking unprecedented measures to ‘flatten the curve.’ In New Hanover County, for example, the beaches are closed and residents are being urged to practice social distancing.

In other places like New York and California state governments have issued ‘shelter in place’ or stay-home orders, and speculation that a similar order from Governor Roy Cooper is making its way around — but what exactly does a shelter in place order mean? (Note: Some, including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, have protested the use of the phrase ‘shelter in place’ in this context, saying it only applies to school shooting; however, it was used initially for the Bay Area shutdown and is being used here to refer to strict shutdowns and stay home orders in general).

Well, like any other executive order, it really depends on the governor, but by looking at other states’ orders we can have a glimpse at what a similar order could mean for us.

On Thursday, the State of California directed residents to ‘stay home except for essentials.’

“The order went into effect on Thursday, March 19, 2020. The order is in place until further notice. It covers the whole state of California, and it exempts activity as needed to maintain continuity of operation of the federal critical infrastructure sectors, critical government services, schools, childcare, and construction, including housing construction,” according to the state’s official website.

Previously, similar efforts were put in place for six counties in the Bay Area. Since then, Illinois and New York have seen similar restrictions. While some of these orders have targeted specific counties or cities, only a states’ governor has the executive power to completely lock down an area.

In North Carolina, Cooper has already taken measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 by ordering all restaurants to close for dine-in services and restricting gatherings and events.

So what exactly is open and closed in places that a shelter in place order has been issued?

California offered the following examples. “Essential services will remain open, such as:

  • Gas stations 
  • Pharmacies
  • Food: Grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, take-out and delivery restaurants 
  • Banks 
  • Laundromats/laundry services 
  • Essential state and local government functions will also remain open, including law enforcement and offices that provide government programs and services.

What’s closed?

  • Dine-in restaurants 
  • Bars and nightclubs 
  • Entertainment venues 
  • Gyms and fitness studios 
  • Public events and gatherings 
  • Convention Centers
  • Hair and nail salons”

Remain calm

If the Governor does choose to implement a shelter in place order, it is important not to panic — many stores selling food and supplies will likely remain open. So stocking up on essentials is not necessarily a bad thing to do in order to limit the number of trips to the store, hoarding goods is unnecessary.

Cooper, as previously mentioned, has already issued executive orders for residents to abide by. Local businesses are already feeling the impact of the virus as service industry employers have been forced to layoff staff in an effort to help them claim unemployment benefits during this time.

Stores remain open and for the most part, basic necessities remain available despite panic shopping by some.

Governor Cooper is expected to give an update on Monday afternoon with health and education leaders at 1 p.m., check back with Port City Daily for any new developments from the governor.

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