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Palm Springs, Orange County Issue Restrictive New Orders for Residents

A shelter-in-place order for Palm Springs, and no gatherings of any kind (including work) for Orange County

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Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Both the city of Palm Springs and all of Orange County have been given new government mandates that restrict travel and social gatherings over the past 24 hours, leading to an increased shutdown of many non-essential businesses during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Similar mandates have already been put in effect across other cities and counties in California, including six Bay Area counties’ shelter-in-place order during the outbreak of COVID-19.

First up is Orange County, which imposed “unprecedented restrictions” on community members there last night, per the LA Times. While county officials have not declared a shelter-in-place mandate specifically, they have restricted “gatherings of any size outside of a single living unit,” which includes places of work and any other public or private gatherings. Furthermore:

Gatherings that involve Essential Activities should only be conducted when they cannot be postponed or achieved without gathering... For gatherings involving Essential Activities, maintaining a six-foot separation of Social Distancing between persons, except family members, is recommended to the greatest extent possible.

A later release regarding the initial order from Orange County Health Officer Dr. Nichole Quick noted that “it is not a lockdown,” though the order does tightly restrict the number of essential activities and businesses allowed to remain in operation, including grocery stores, gas stations, laundromats, government functions, and media outlets. Bars have been closed and restaurants may only offer takeout and delivery per California Governor Gavin Newsom’s directive earlier this week.

The order remains in place until at least March 31, and a full list of essential activities can be found here. As for enforcement, the order states that “any person who violates or who refuses or willfully neglects to obey this regulation is subject to fine, imprisonment, or both.”

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Meanwhile in the city of Palm Springs, a full shelter-in-place announcement was made yesterday, March 17. The order is meant to “limit activities to only those essential to [residents’] daily lives — and to close to the public all non-essential businesses.” The order took effect this morning at 7 a.m.

Essential businesses include grocery stores, farmers markets, pharmacies, food banks, convenience stores, gas stations, financial institutions, essential infrastructure, healthcare operations, farms, and necessary transportation services for those needing to get around. As with Los Angeles County and the rest of the state, restaurants are only available for pick-up, delivery, and drive-thru services. Social distancing is still required, and groups of ten or more are prohibited. The order will remain in effect until at least April 2.