The Number of Jurisdictions Implementing Stay-at-Home Orders Is Increasing Exponentially

Several new cities and states have ordered their residents to stay at home in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Michelman & Robinson has already reported on such directives in California, Illinois, New Jersey and New York, and now several other jurisdictions are among those that have announced that they already have or soon will be following suit to some degree. They include: Connecticut, Dallas (TX), Delaware, Indiana, Kansas City (MO), Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (PA), St. Louis (MO) and West Virginia.

Within the margins, most of these new stay-at home orders include the same or similar mandates that have been placed upon residents of California, Illinois, New York and New Jersey, though you should understand that the restrictions and requirements that are now coming online in these and other additional jurisdictions may differ.

Here, we provide a big picture look at the essence of the newest directives that have been or are being issued. Note that the list of judges, mayors and governors signing similar orders into law is growing exponentially, and this alert is not intended to be exhaustive or address every jurisdiction that is now impacted.

Q. When will residents in Connecticut, Dallas (TX), Delaware, Indiana, Kansas City (MO), Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (PA), St. Louis (MO) and West Virginia be required to stay at home?

A. The effective dates vary. They are as follows:

Connecticut—8:00 p.m. (EDT) tonight (Monday, March 23), and an end date is not specified

Dallas (TX)—11:59 p.m. (CDT) tonight, with a preliminary end date of April 3

Delaware—8:00 a.m. (EDT) Tuesday, March 24, with a preliminary end date of May 15

Indiana—11:59 p.m. (EDT) Tuesday, March 24, with a preliminary end date of April 6

Kansas City (MO)—12:01 a.m. (CDT) on Tuesday, March 24, to be reassessed in 30 days

Louisiana—5:00 p.m. (CDT) today, with a preliminary end date of April 12

Massachusetts—12:00 p.m. (EDT) Tuesday, March 24, with a preliminary end date of April 7

Michigan—12:01 a.m. (EDT) Tuesday, March 24, with a preliminary end date three weeks later

Nevada—Became effective on Friday, March 20, with a preliminary end date of April 16

Ohio—11:59 p.m. (EDT) tonight, with a preliminary end date of April 6

Oregon—the stay-at-home order is still pending. On Friday, March 20, Governor Kate Brown told resident to stay home, with the specific legal directive still in the works

Pennsylvania—Became effective on Thursday, March 19, but only with respect to all “non-life-sustaining businesses” in the state. Enforcement actions against such businesses that do not close physical locations begin today

Philadelphia (PA)—8:00 a.m. (EDT) today, and an end date is not specified

St. Louis (MO)—6:00 p.m. (CDT) this evening, with a preliminary end date of April 6

West Virginia—8:00 p.m. (EDT) Tuesday, March 24, and an end date is not specified

Q. Understanding there may be differences from jurisdiction-to-jurisdiction, broadly, what are residents of effected cities and states allowed to do while these stay-at-home orders are in place?

A. People living in cities and states with stay-at-home mandates must avoid all nonessential outings and gatherings (read: parties, celebrations, etc.) and stay inside as much as possible. Still, the directives typically allow individuals to perform tasks essential to the health and safety of their families and pets. They can leave their homes to buy groceries, medicines, household supplies and other consumer products (like auto parts and gasoline); obtain medical care; pickup to-go orders at restaurants; go for walks (with or without their pets), bike rides and runs or otherwise exercise; and work so long as their jobs are “essential.” When leaving home for whatever permissible reason, people are to practice social distancing measures and keep 6 feet between themselves and those around them.

Q. Are these stay-at-home orders mandatory?

A. Yes, and in most, if not all, jurisdictions, it is a misdemeanor punished by a fine, imprisonment or business closure not to follow them.

Q. What businesses can remain open in places with stay-at-home directives?

 A. “Essential businesses” may continue to operate, albeit while practicing social distancing to the extent possible. These have included, but are not limited to:

  • Health care and public health operations
  • Stores that sell groceries and medicine
  • Food, beverage and licensed marijuana production and agriculture establishments
  • Restaurants that offer carry-out or take-out
  • Organizations that provide charitable and social services
  • Religious entities
  • Newspapers, TV, and radio organizations
  • Gas stations and businesses needed for transportation
  • Banks, financial and insurance institutions
  • Hardware and supply stores
  • Post offices and other businesses that provide shipping and delivery services
  • Laundry services
  • Educational institutions
  • Hotels and motels

If you are uncertain whether your business can be characterized as “essential,” your local stay-at-home order should be reviewed.

Q. Are there specific businesses that have been ordered to stay closed in jurisdictions under stay-at-home orders?

A. Yes. For the most part, the following establishments may not operate where residents have been directed to stay-at-home: casinos; concert and entertainment venues; racetracks; gyms and fitness centers; movie theaters; nightclubs; indoor portions of retail shopping malls; amusement parts and other family and children’s attractions; barber shops; beauty and nail salons; spas; massage parlors; tanning salons; tattoo parlors; and public and private social clubs. Of course, your local order, if any, should be consulted if you operate any of the foregoing businesses and need to determine your rights.

Q. If I am governed by a stay-at-home order, can I use public transportation at this time?

A. As a rule, yes, but only if traveling for the permissible reasons listed above or if you are commuting to work at an ”essential business,” and only if you have no other feasible choice. If you do use public transportation, you should make all efforts to stand or sit six feet away from other riders and frequently use sanitizing products.

Q. What do the various stay-at-home orders say about the workforce?

A. Our leaders are encouraging us to work from home to the extent we can, and that is true whether or not we work for “essential businesses.” With that in mind, all businesses should do their best to allow and accommodate workers to work from home. This is the case whether or not these entities are open or closed to the public.

It is understood that this is not always possible; some functions cannot be performed remotely. In such instances, businesses and non-profits should do their best to reduce staff on site to the minimal number necessary to ensure that essential operations can continue.

Bottom line, when it comes to employment: even if you (1) operate an “essential business” and (2) the work that needs to be done cannot be accomplished from a worker’s home, (3) then only for the time necessary should that worker go to work.

We will continue to monitor new stay-at-home and similar orders that become effective going forward.

This blog post is not offered, and should not be relied on, as legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice in specific situations.