All Californians, nearly 40 million people, have been ordered to stay at home except for when it is absolutely necessary for them to leave "until further notice" to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the order late Thursday just an hour after officials in Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the US, issued a similar mandate. Earlier this week, their Bay Area counterparts handed down similar "shelter-in-place" orders, the strictest measures taken in the country so far.
"This is a moment we need to make tough decisions," Newsom said. "This is a moment where we need some straight talk and we need to tell people the truth: We need to bend the curve in the state of California."
Across the state of California, health officials have confirmed 675 cases of COVID-19 and 16 deaths from the disease as of Wednesday evening, behind Washington state and New York, where more than 5,000 cases have been confirmed.
The state's order takes effect immediately and will be in place indefinitely with Newsom telling reporters that officials "could not give a deadline that we really could believe in."
"This is a dynamic situation," he said.
The Los Angeles order, which will stay in effect until at least April 19, requires all businesses, including museums, malls, retail stores, and workplaces, to stop operations and only allows people to leave their home for "essential activities," like to pick up food, go to the doctor, or take a walk in the neighborhood. It will take effect midnight Thursday, though businesses will have an additional day to prepare to close.
"We’ve already radically changed how we live in Los Angeles," Mayor Eric Garcetti said during a press briefing. "We need to be painfully honest tonight that we're about to enter into a new way of living here."
The state's order, which does not have a set end date, includes exemptions for public safety and health care operations as well as other essential services, including laundromats, grocery stores, and restaurants that offer takeout or delivery.
But even those essential businesses will need to incorporate social distancing practices — keeping 6 feet of space between individual employees and customers, officials said.