Seeing that the COVID-19 pandemic is showing little to no signs of slowing down, national and state governments have begun imposing measures to curtail the spread of the virus. One such order is the shelter-in-place. These orders are usually given in extremely dangerous situations such as mass shootings or chemical spills. But with frequent spikes in the COVID-19 cases, the government has managed to compel the citizens to stay at their homes to contain the virus. Only emergency travel is permitted.
What exactly does this kind of order entail? Are you obligated to comply with the imposition? Read on to know everything about the shelter-in-place order and your position in the whole scheme of things.
Shelter in place is an order for the citizens to stay at their homes and not venture outdoors unless it's an emergency or for state-sanctioned purposes. For instance, some states permitted people to travel to buy groceries while enforcing shelter in place.
A few things were included in the list of "essential activities" permitted when the shelter in place was enforced. If there are violations of the rule, the offender might be punished, ranging from a mere fine to imprisonment, or both.
Different states have various prohibitions as a part of their shelter-in-place order, depending upon the severity of the situation and precise reason for imposing the order in the first place. For instance, people were prohibited from venturing outside in the Bay Area. Although, there were a few exceptions in place, labeled "emergency activities." But vulnerable people, such as minors, elderly citizens, or people with underlying medical conditions (who are at a huge risk of contracting the virus) or disabilities, could be asked not to go out at all.
People were banned from going to restaurants, bars, cafes, and other recreational establishments such as gyms, movie theaters, nightclubs, and more. Driving, walking, running, or biking on roads are prohibited unless the travel is for the exceptional activities that the order does not cover. Some of the exemptions include traveling to purchase medical supplies, going out for a doctor's appointment, getting groceries, and suchlike. In the cases of some individuals, going to work is also considered an essential activity, and thus, these people won't be required to comply with the law.
In a standard situation, you would indeed be required to comply with the rules laid forth by the government and not engage in activities or places where the shelter-in-place order has put a temporary ban on. In case of violation, you would be penalized, either with a fine, jail time or both, depending upon the severity of your offense and if it was a repeated one. However, it should be noted that the list of prohibitions could differ from state to state.
For instance, in Alaska, the shelter-in-place order included a prohibition on all kinds of travel, except for emergency services or to go outside to get some fresh air, provided that you don't come in contact with another person. This last provision is not granted to the people of most of the other states.
Similarly, in Arizona, the order included establishments like hair salons and golf courses as a part of the essential businesses, which invited much condemnation from health experts, who believed that it wouldn't be possible to provide grooming services without compromising with the health safety standards.
In states like Connecticut, people are only allowed outside for essentials such as obtaining food and healthcare. Even for essentials, the state has limited how large of a gathering can go outside at once, with public transport being severely limited.
There are numerous more variations in the orders of each state. It's best to read through the official order of your state and see what you're allowed to do and what not. In an everyday situation, you would be required to comply with the order. Otherwise, you could risk facing action against yourself. This is unless you're exempted from following any of the rules.
Emergency Alert System (EAS)
The Emergency Alert System implemented by the Federal Communications Commission is a communication system that alerts the general public about any disaster that would enforce a shelter-in-place order. The system allows the president to warn the people of an impending disaster during a national emergency within 10 minutes of it. From broadcasters to cable television systems and satellite digital audio radio service providers, among a few more are expected to be a part of the communications network to ensure that the president's word reaches as far as possible, alerting as many citizens as possible about the disaster.
If a shelter-in-place order becomes imperative, the EAS would issue the disaster code and communicate the emergency via the system. The citizens of the United States have been warned of many disasters through this system over the years.
What Is an Essential Business?
To contain the spread of the COVID-19, states enforced lockdowns and allowed only a select few essential businesses to operate. Traveling to and fro these establishments is permitted under certain circumstances. The categorization of essential services and non-essential services is different in each state. So it's best to review the official order of your state government and see what services you would be allowed to avail of under the essentials category.
Although, some establishments are allowed to operate in all or most states. For instance, everybody is allowed to use hospital services and travel to pharmacies to obtain medical supplies. You could go out to shop for groceries as well, although the officials would advise you to have the groceries delivered to your home if that's an option. Gas stations, public utilities, communications, and IT are some more services allowed to operate during statewide shelter-in-place order.
Non-essential business employers will be required to ask their employees to work from home so that the travel would remain minimal and containable. There could be curfews in place, too, during which it's likely that using even otherwise essential service would be prohibited. To make sure, do review the order of your state and see if you are exempted from the rules in any way. If not, you'd have to comply with the provisions.