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What a 'stay-at-home' order could mean for Washington residents

Instead of focusing on a shelter in place order, Inslee said he is most concerned right now about residents' economic problems.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Update: Read about Washington's new 'stay-at-home' order here

SPOKANE, Wash. — Tens of millions of people living in California, New York, Illinois, Oregon and other states have been placed under "stay-at-home" orders in an effort to slow the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown also issued orders on Monday to shut down non-essential businesses and constrain social and recreational gatherings. 

While Washington Gov. Jay  Inslee has not said yet that he will follow suit, there have been rumors that he will soon enact a shelter in place order in the state.

Washington state has already enacted social distancing measures, such as temporarily shutting down bars and restaurants and further limiting the size of gatherings during the coronavirus outbreak. 

Instead of focusing on a shelter in place order, Inslee said at a teleconference with reporters last week that he is most concerned right now about residents' economic problems.

“We could spend a lot of time trying to chase down rumors and we got to focus on today’s challenges today,” Inslee said.

As COVID-19 spreads in Washington state, Inslee said during the teleconference that he and other leaders are making decisions as best as they can “on a daily basis.”

“We can’t just try to speculate what may happen 30, 40, 60 days from now," he added. 

Social distancing efforts are different than an official shelter in place order. Here is an explanation of what a "stay-at-home" order could look like in Washington state. 

RELATED: What is social distancing?

Residents must remain place except for essential activities

In simple terms, the order means all non-essential trips from your home would not be allowed for a certain period of time. The length would be set by Gov. Inslee.

Essential activities include grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions or driving to what is considered an essential job. In most states, essential activity also includes exercising and going outside – as long as people stay six feet apart.

Other essential activities include taking care of sick or disabled relative and seeing a doctor.

In Oregon, the order forces closure of businesses such as arcades, barber shops, hair salons, gyms and fitness studios, skating rinks, playgrounds, theaters, sports facilities and yoga studios.

Businesses that remain open must implement social distancing guidelines, keeping customers at least six feet apart. Workers must also be given a chance by employers to work from home.

Will roads be closed? 

Roads have not been closed in other states under stay-at-home orders. But residents should only travel if it is essential to their work or health.

Can you take a flight out of state? 

Yes, but planes and any other form of travel should only be used for essential purposes.

What happens if people do not comply?

In Oregon, violations of the stay-at-home order are a Class C misdemeanor. This is consistent with actions taken by other U.S. states that have issued similar orders. 

RELATED: What is potential punishment for violating Inslee's shutdown proclamation?

Who is exempt from the order?

You may be asking: What jobs are considered essential? The Department of Homeland Security has provided a list. 

Essential positions include:

  • Healthcare and public health
  • Law enforcement, public safety employees and first responders
  • Food and agriculture workers
  • Electric industry and petroleum workers 
  • Natural gas and propane workers, waste and wastewater employees,
  • Transportation and logistics
  • Public works employees
  • Communications and information technology, including news media
  • Other community-based government operations and essential functions 
  • Critical manufacturing
  • Hazardous materials
  • Financial services
  • Chemical workers
  • Defense Industrial Base workers 

Find a full list from the Department of Homeland Security here

How long could it last?

Shelter in place orders in some states, including California, are slated to last until April 7. But local authorities can extend or reduce this. 

Washington's ban on restaurants and other businesses is in effect through March 31. It applies to restaurants, bars, dance halls, clubs, theaters, health and fitness clubs. Other banned establishments include salons, tattoo parlors and youth sports. 

RELATED: Washington restaurants, bars, and other venues closed to customers amid coronavirus outbreak

President Donald Trump has also asked Americans to stay away from restaurants, bars and other public gathering places for 15 days as of last Monday to slow the spread of COVID-19. He added that the virus could potentially have an impact through August.

RELATED: Family of 4 could get $3,000 under virus relief plan, Mnuchin says

Coronavirus: Facts not fear

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