Shelter in Place: A New Reality and What it Means

shelter in place order, stay at home order, coronavirus, COVID-19

In order to stifle the impact of COVID-19, many cities and states are announcing shelter in place or stay-at-home orders.

These sudden orders to stay at home mark a change in lifestyle for many around the country, with people working from home, homeschooling, and remaining isolated from friends and loved ones. 

What can you do under a shelter in place order?

In most cases, under a shelter in place order you can visit your doctor, the grocery store, the pharmacy, and the laundromat. You may usually go outside to walk your dog as long as you remain six feet away from other people. Check with your local authorities for the guidelines where you live. 

In the Bay Area, as well as other cities, those who don’t comply with the shelter in place order will be charged with a misdemeanor and could face fines. 

The following infographic is derived from Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s announcement about her state’s Shelter in Place order. Check with your local authorities for guidelines in your area. 

shelter in place order, stay at home order

What are considered essential businesses?

Most workers are encouraged to work from home, unless they work for essential businesses.

In most cases, the following are considered essential services:

  • Health care facilities
  • Grocery stores
  • Banks
  • Media services
  • Hardware stores
  • Laundromats
  • Delivery services
  • Child care facilities and pet day care services for those whose jobs are considered essential

Wired has a complete list of each state’s mandates so far. Check with Medicare World for updates, and check with your local and state authorities for the shelter in place orders in your area. 

Shelter in place or stay-at-home?

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo argues that the phrase “Shelter in Place” should not be used as it brings up frightening connotations from the Cold War Era, nuclear war, or active shooting situations. 

He said, “I believe communication is important, and I believe words are important. Say what you mean and don’t say what might alarm people.” He encourages the use of “stay-at-home order,” which is a more accurate term.

Shock and grief

It’s important to be aware that sudden life changes can cause trauma and anxiety. It is okay to feel sad and to feel grief. Some people are still coming to terms with the current situation, which hopefully won’t last too long. Not to mention that many have also lost their jobs in the sudden economic downturn brought on by the virus, leaving them feeling lonely and afraid. Experts encourage people to allow themselves to feel all the feelings of shock, discomfort, and uncertainty. 

The Harvard Business Review published a story on the grief many are feeling in the midst of this sudden change. Grief expert David Kessler states that it’s important to feel one’s feelings and accept the situation in order to move ahead and find meaning. 


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