By Bradford Betz
Published March 23, 2020
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The order, which took effect midnight on Friday morning, prohibits gatherings outside and requires nonessential businesses to close.
“We need to bend the curve in the state of California,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a news conference. “There’s a social contract here. People, I think, recognize the need to do more. They will adjust and adapt as they have.”
But questions lingered Monday as to what constituted an “essential” service. Meanwhile, many residents could be seen openly flouting the order as they packed parks, recreation areas and some beaches.
In response, some cities have closed these areas, stopping short of outright punishing people who violate these restrictions. Other local leaders have said stricter measures may be more necessary if Newsom’s order isn’t followed.
To clarify confusion, state officials have released a more in-depth document elaborating on the order. The document lays out specific jobs that are critical in helping state, local, tribal and industry partners while ensuring the “continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security.”
These “essential” jobs include workers in both the private and public health sectors, including physicians, dentists, psychologists and nurses, among others.
The guidelines also include workers in the emergency services sector. Jobs that fall under this category include everything connected with “law enforcement, public safety and first responders.”
Employees in public works, jobs that support the “operation, inspection, and maintenance of essential public works facilities and operations, including bridges, water and sewer and main breaks,” are also regarded as essential services.
Other “essential” jobs include those in food and agriculture, energy, water and wastewater, transportation and logistics, communications and information technology, community-based government operations, some manufacturing, hazardous materials, financial services, and the Defense Industrial Base Sector.
Per Newsom’s executive order, residents are allowed to go to grocery stores, pharmacies and parks. The order also forbids people to visit their friends or go to work unless their job falls under the category of an “essential service.”
Residents are also able to walk their dog and allowed to go to the doctor and pharmacy but not visit a relative in the hospital or nursing home – unless that relative is near death.
In a Saturday afternoon news conference, Newsom admonished young people who were disregarding the rules.
“Be a good neighbor. Be a good citizen. Those young people that are still out there on the beaches thinking this is a party time — grow up,” he said. “It’s time to wake up, time to recognize it’s not just about the old folks. It’s about your impact on their lives. Don’t be selfish, recognize you have a responsibility to meet this moment.”
The governor said the order will remain in effect until “further notice” but could be changed as conditions warrant.