Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia issue stay-at-home orders to fight coronavirus

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, July 15, 2019. Jose Luis Magana/AP
  • Officials in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia officially ordered residents to stay at home on Monday as the region sees an escalation in COVID-19 cases, effectively shutting down the Capital region.
  • Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, issued an executive order on Monday tightening previous restrictions placed on residents and businesses. The order takes effect at 8 p.m. on Monday.
  • Shortly after, Virginia and Washington, D.C., followed suit. Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, ordered residents to stay at home until June 10. “This is an unprecedented and difficult time,” he said.
  • D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser tweeted that, “Staying at home is the best way to flatten the curve and protect yourself, your family, and our entire community from COVID-19.” The order will go into effect at midnight on April 1.
  • In all three orders, people are allowed to leave their homes only for essential reasons, such as obtaining food and medicine or going to work if their job is considered essential. Some outdoor exercise is permitted, as long as people practice social distancing. Violators could be guilty of a misdemeanour and face imprisonment or fines.
  • Combined, the order covers more than 15 million people.
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The mayor of Washington, D.C. and the governors of Maryland and Virginia have ordered their residents to stay at home to slow the spread of the coronavirus, putting over 15 million people on lockdown as the region experiences an uptick in confirmed cases.

The orders essentially demand a shutdown of the entire Capital region, with residents instructed to leave home only for essential activities such as food, medicine, caring for family, and limited forms of outdoor exercise.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan officially ordered residents to stay at home on Monday. A few hours later, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam followed suit, telling residents they needed to stay at home until June 10. By late afternoon, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser completed the shutdown of the Capital region, officially ordering city dwellers after the city previously shut down all non-essential businesses.

Both governors lamented that some residents had continued to go out and gather, despite both states banning gatherings of more than ten people to prevent viral transmission.

The Washington D.C., Virginia, and Maryland region saw a sharp rise in coronavirus cases this month.

As of Monday morning, Maryland had 1,413 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, according to the state’s department of health. So far 15 people have died and over 300 have been hospitalized. By Monday afternoon, Virginia had confirmed a total of 1,020 COVID-19 cases and 25 deaths, per its health department.

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., 401 people had tested positive and 9 had died as of Sunday, March 29.

Washington, D.C.’s stay-at-home order is the “best way to flatten the curve,” mayor says.

On Monday afternoon, Bowser tweeted that “due to an increasing number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in DC and across the region and the nation, I’ve issued a stay-at-home order for the District of Columbia.”

The city’s residents were already barred from gathering in large groups, and non-essential businesses had been ordered to close. Restaurants could still fill take out and delivery orders, however, though many establishments have opted to close for financial and safety reasons.

Bowser’s order takes effect at midnight on April 1.

It permits Washingtonians to leave their home for essential activities such as grocery shopping, obtaining medical care that cannot be conducted through telemedicine, and certain essential forms of travel.

But Bowser warned that those wilfully violation of the order could be found guilty of a misdemeanour and face a $US5,000 fine, up to 90 days of imprisonment, or both.

Maryland is “no longer asking” people to stay home. It’s now mandatory.

“This is a deadly public-health crisis,” Hogan said. “We are no longer asking, or suggesting that Marylanders stay home. We are directing them to do so.”

The stay-at-home order takes effect at 8 p.m. on Monday.

Anyone who violates the order would be guilty of a misdemeanour, Hogan said, and if convicted could face jail time or a fine up to $US5,000.

“No Maryland resident should be leaving their home unless it is for an essential job, or for an essential reason, such as obtaining food or medicine, seeking urgent medical attention, or for other necessary purposes,” Hogan said.

The executive order signed by Hogan provides a full list of “essential” activities that include caring for pets, relatives, and friends. The order permits outdoor exercise in forms such as walking, hiking, running, or biking, but they cannot be conducted in groups of more than 10 people.

Maryland began taking action to impose social-distancing orders earlier this month. The governor declared a state of emergency on March 5, and on March 23 he ordered all nonessential businesses to close and told residents to avoid groups of 10 people or more.Monday’s executive order updates those directives to a stay-at-home directive.

But Hogan said many residents were still not listening.

“Despite all of those actions and our repeated warnings for more than three weeks, and in spite of the rapid escalation of this crisis across the world, the nation, and our state, some people are still choosing to ignore those executive orders and directives.

“Those individuals are endangering themselves and their fellow citizens,” Hogan said.

Virginia’s governor orders residents to stay at home after ‘beaches and recreational areas were literally packed.’

“It is clear more people need to hear this basic message: stay home,” Northam said at a Monday press conference, after lamenting that people still flocked to beaches and parks despite orders from the government to practice social distancing.

Under Northam’s order, residents would need to stay at home except to conduct essential tasks, and the order will be in effect until June 10. “It will take time to show results,” he said.

Virginia’s stay-at-home order is similar to Maryland’s in regards to what activity is allowed and prohibited. People could leave their homes for essential reasons, such as buying groceries, caring for animals or family members, getting exercise as long as they practiced social distancing.

But any parties or social gatherings of more than 10 people were prohibited. Beaches would be closed to any activity except exercising or fishing, he said, and people should not go to the store unless they needed to stock up on multiple items.

“This is an unprecedented and difficult time,” Northam said. “And it will be hard for people.”

Read more: These Republican governors are ordering everyone to stay home because of coronavirus, defying Trump’s impatience to reopen the economy