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Posted Monday, March 23, 2020

Philly Issues "Stay at Home" Order

Philly just issued a ‘stay at home’ order to help curb the spread of coronavirus. Here’s what that means.

by Sean Collins Walsh, Updated: March 22, 2020- 4:54 PM

Editor’s note: News about the coronavirus is changing quickly. The latest information can be found at inquirer.com/coronavirus.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney on Sunday issued a “stay at home” order, joining a growing number of jurisdictions across the country implementing more severe restrictions on social and commercial activity to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

The new restrictions, which take effect 8 a.m. Monday, are the latest escalation in a series of directives by Kenney and Gov. Tom Wolf, including previous orders instructing nonessential businesses to shut down and banning large gatherings.

So what does the new order entail? Here’s a brief overview. You can read the entire order here:

What activities are prohibited under the “stay at home” order?

The order states that “all public or private gatherings of any number of people outside of a single household or living unit are prohibited.” That means all sporting events, picnics, outdoor parties — even small social gatherings of a few friends in a park — are now prohibited.

Are there any exceptions?

Yes. The order allows people to leave their homes to seek medical care; buy food; care for family members, friends, or pets in other households; and commute to work at a “life-sustaining” business or government agency. Employees working in designated “essential” industries — such as health care, utilities, and transportation — are still expected to report to work.

What about outdoor exercise?

The order allows residents to go outside for “walking, running, cycling, operating a wheelchair, or engaging in outdoor activities with immediate family members, caretakers, household members, or romantic partners." It prohibits, however, activities that involve physical contact with strangers, such as team sports. And while residents are outside walking or jogging, they must follow the city’s social distance rules with other people, including staying six feet apart from strangers.

Can I still pick up takeout meals from restaurants?

Yes. But under the new rules, walk-in ordering is now prohibited. You must order online or over the phone before picking up your food.

Why is the city telling residents to stay at home? Weren’t we already practicing social distancing?

Kenney said he is issuing the “stay at home” order because many residents were ignoring officials’ previous requests and instructions. Picnics, basketball games, and other social gatherings were still taking place across the city on Saturday. The new order is meant to drive home the message that the only way to stop the spread of the coronavirus and save lives is to limit social interactions.

What other places have similar orders?

The first U.S. jurisdictions to issue “shelter in place” orders were seven counties in California’s Bay Area. Since then, the entire state of California has adopted the policy, and Illinois, New York and New Jersey have taken similar measures. So far, Philadelphia is the only jurisdiction in Pennsylvania to order its residents to stay indoors. Wolf, however, has said the commonwealth is considering a similar approach.

What is the difference between Kenney’s “stay at home” order and other jurisdictions’ “shelter in place” orders?

Each city and state is creating its own definitions for these terms. Philadelphia has so far not issued a “shelter in place” order related to the coronavirus. Previously, the city used that term to describe emergency situations in which residents needed to find shelter immediately — even if it was not in their own homes — because of an imminent safety risk, such as the refinery explosion in South Philadelphia last summer. It’s possible the city will use the term in the future to describe a new stage of restrictions related to coronavirus.

How will the order be enforced?

City Managing Director Brian Abernathy said the city plans to disrupt outdoor gatherings and instruct residents to go home. Kenney said the city does not plan to have police officers arrest anyone for violating the order, but the city will reevaluate its enforcement strategy after observing the impact of the new order.