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The state and regional coronavirus guidelines are designed to keep public spaces empty and help residents self-isolate.


Angela Lang/CNET

For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

New Jersey, San Francisco and a rapidly growing list of state and local governments are declaring overnight curfews, temporarily shuttering nonessential business and asking residents to shelter in place in an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus and its resulting disease, COVID-19.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced a statewide curfew on Monday from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., and in California, seniors over 65 years old are asked to stay indoors. Local governments that make up the San Francisco Bay Area are also directing residents to voluntarily “shelter in place” except for essential errands like grocery shopping.

Many other states like New York, Ohio, Illinois and Connecticut are limiting a combination of measures, like restaurants and bars to just delivery and takeout for food orders and closing down casinos, gyms and movie theaters. On Monday, President Tump also issued federal guidelines that include self-isolating as much as possible, especially for vulnerable populations.

These directives and measures raise a lot of questions: Who can go outside and when? How will the rules be enforced? What does it mean for people who need to care for others? In many cases, these practices are county-, city- or state-specific and are still evolving. For now, here’s what we know.


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What does a statewide curfew mean?

For New Jersey, the statewide curfew is in effect and runs each night from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. the next morning, with emergency and essential travel the only reasons the governor lists as permissible to go outside during the evening. All public and private schools from preschool through university are closed, as are casinos, racetracks, gyms, movie theaters and performing arts centers. 

Restaurants can provide food only through delivery or takeout services.

Can I still go to the grocery store, the gas station and outside on a walk? 

Governor Murphy’s office said businesses that are essential to health, safety and welfare — including grocery stores, pharmacies, medical offices, and gas stations — will remain open. The governor did not rule out recreational walks or other outdoor activities for individuals.

How will New Jersey enforce the curfew?

Right now, the curfew is a recommendation and not part of an executive order or declaration. There is no current indication how the curfew will be enforced.

What are other states and regions doing?

New York and Connecticut temporarily closed entertainment-related businesses — including casinos and theaters — and require restaurants to provide meals only through takeout and delivery services. 

In addition to restaurants and bars, Ohio and Illinois are temporarily closing schools.

Indiana and Kentucky are prohibiting in-person meals in restaurants, as have the states of Washington and Maryland and the District of Columbia. Oregon Governor Kate Brown has also limited restaurants and other food-service businesses to takeout service only, as well as prohibited gatherings of greater than 25 people for at least the next four weeks.

Pennsylvania is shutting down all nonessential businesses across the state for two weeks and requesting residents to stay indoors.

California Governor Gavin Newsom requested all residents 65 years and older to stay indoors and self-isolate. The request extended to anyone with chronic health conditions. The governor also requested that bars, nightclubs, wineries and pubs should close and that all restaurants should run at half capacity to keep customers at a safe distance from each other.

Six counties of the San Francisco Bay Area ordered local residents to stay indoors except for “essential needs,” starting Tuesday at 12:01 a.m. until at least April 7. Called “shelter-in-place,” the order is designed to keep people indoors until the emergency is over. Individual walks are OK. In addition, San Francisco Mayor London Breed said necessary government functions and essential stores — including grocery stores — will remain open, and restaurants will be open just for takeout and delivery.

You don’t have to wait for your state or local government to self-isolate. Here’s how to keep the virus out of your home, how to avoid misinformation about the virus and what you need to know about coronavirus treatments.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.