That means staying at home except for the most essential reasons. Officials said people would be allowed to leave the house for essential work, to go to a grocery store, pick up medication, or even walk the dog. But they urged everyone to practice social distancing while outside. “It is now time to do your part,” Dr. Scott Morrow, the San Mateo health officer, said in a statement
“It’s asking people to go home with their families and to stay there until they are told otherwise,” said Mayor Joe Goethals of San Mateo, adding that only “essential” businesses like hospitals, grocery stores and pharmacies would remain open.
“I don’t expect anyone to get arrested,” said Mr. Goethals, who said people will still be allowed to go outside for limited activities, like buying food and getting fresh air. “But it’s not optional. This is mandatory for all of us.”
The number of coronavirus cases in the United States crossed the 4,000 mark on Monday, with more than 70 deaths, including the first deaths in Indiana, Nevada and South Carolina.
A growing number of cities and states have taken significant actions to slow the coronavirus, shutting down schools, restaurants, bars, movie theaters and gyms. The restrictions stretched from the now-empty sidewalks of New York City, where officials had made the wrenching decision to shut down public schools, to the fields and urban centers of Ohio.
“I don’t know how to explain to my four-year-old why he no longer has school, why we can’t see Granny and Pa or Gam and Pa, and why everything is closed,” said Molly Hideg, a mother and social worker at a hospital in Cleveland.
By Monday afternoon, officials had ordered restaurants and bars to shut down in Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington State and Puerto Rico, with exceptions in some places for takeout or delivery orders. Millions of Americans are now hunkered down at home for the foreseeable future. In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom called for people 65 and older to shelter in their homes. Some places, like Puerto Rico and Hoboken, N.J., have also resorted to a curfew at night.