San Joaquin County's Public Health Officer, Dr. Maggie Park, and the Office of Emergency Services released a new stay-at-home order on Saturday, March 21. Failure to comply with the new order is a misdemeanor punishable by fine, imprisonment or both.
Under the order, county residents are directed to stay at their place of residence except for essential business. For most people, this means staying home, according to OES.
Residents are allowed to leave their homes to pick up food, medical supplies or medicine, care for family members, take pets on walks, or exercise outside, but should not gather in groups or be within six feet of other people, the county said.
"Because even people without symptoms can transmit the disease, and because evidence shows the disease is easily spread, gatherings can result in preventable transmission of the virus," county officials wrote in a frequently-asked-questions document about the order.
Businesses and employees who are considered part of the essential critical infrastructure workforce may continue to operate. Businesses that are not considered essential -- under Gov. Gavin Newsom's order, that includes bars and nightclubs, dine-in restaurants, gyms and fitness centers, event centers, entertainment venues, hair and nail salons, and others --are ordered to close.
Schools and other organizations providing take-home lunches may continue to do so under the statewide order, and restaurants may continue offering takeout and delivery meals.
"Childcare facilities may only operate if they enable employees exempt by this Order to continue working as permitted and only under certain conditions," the FAQ released by the county Office of Emergency Services states. "Among these conditions, children must be cared for in groups of 12 or fewer, groups of children may not mix with each other, and providers may not circulate between groups."
Anyone who feels sick is urged to call their doctor, a nurse hotline, or urgent care to discuss their symptoms before going to a hospital. Residents should continue to call 911 or go to an emergency room if they have a medical emergency.
The new order comes as the number of infections within San Joaquin County has gone up, officials said, as well as to incorporate Gov. Gavin Newsom's statewide order. As of 5 p.m. Saturday, March 21, San Joaquin County had 31 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with two deaths, according to Public Health Services.
The order went into effect at 11:59 p.m. Saturday and will remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. April 7, or until it is "extended, rescinded, superseded or amended in writing" by the director of the Office of Emergency Services or by the Board of Supervisors.
"This is a legal Order issued under the authority of California law," officials wrote in the FAQ. "You are required to comply."
The county has called on the Sheriff and local chiefs of police to enforce the order. Anyone who suspects the order is being violated may report it to the non-emergency number of their local police department, the FAQ says.