What does it mean to “shelter in place?”

Over one in four Americans are currently ordered to stay home. But what exactly do these "shelter-in-place" and "stay at home" orders mean?

##The Do’s and Dont’s of Shelter in Place

The new normal

With much of the United States population living under a mandated or strongly advised ‘shelter in place’ order, vacant streets, shuttered stores, and quieter highways represent life for the foreseeable future. San Francisco resident Janet Penley acknowledges how strange the conditions seem and the damaging effect that such extreme measures will have on so many people while understanding the necessity. Fellow San Francisco resident, Michael Bavuso, finds the silver lining as he enjoys the peace and quiet.

Stricter social distancing

While the entirety of the United States has been urged to practice social distancing in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, specific areas of the nation with the highest population densities have announced ‘shelter in place’ or ‘stay at home’ directives to all residents. This essentially means that those living in the affected areas are forced to stay at home and are only allowed outside for essential visits to banks, grocery stores, or pharmacies. Most everyone living in the US is urged to follow these guidelines, but an official order is meant to convey a more dire need for compliance.

Different rules for different folks

Varying United States jurisdictions will include their own specific guidelines for self-quarantines, but in general, it requires the closing of all non-essential business (under legal/financial penalty) and all citizens to remain in their residence. All gatherings are prohibited, counter to the national recommendation against gatherings of 10 or more. Exercise is allowed as long as the person in question is keeping physically isolated. San Francisco was first to move forward with such measures; an example which many have since followed citing potential health risks as more costly than immediate economic impact. Nations like Italy have imposed the most strict rules via complete lockdowns in certain regions, barring anyone from leaving their homes without official permission under legal penalty.

Desperate times are calling

Government-issued orders such as these are typically reserved for chemical accidents/disasters, extreme weather events, or even manhunts, but the earth is in the grips of the most severe health emergency in over a century. For more information on what to do, how to best prepare, and if your area is affected by an order you should consult the CDC website or local authorities.