A state-issued isolation order for Blaine County residents will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. Friday night.

The order requires all people living in Blaine County to “stay and work from home as much as possible while ensuring all essential services and business remain available,” Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen said in a memo attached to the order. (Read the full order here.)

The order, which was published online shortly after 7 p.m. Friday, will remain in place until 11:59 p.m. on April 13 unless the Jeppesen extends, rescinds, or changes it.

Under the order, “gatherings of individuals outside the home” are prohibited, with exceptions for certain “essential activities,” “essential travel,”  to perform work for “essential businesses and government agencies” or to perform “essential infrastructure work.” (Examples of essential activities, essential businesses, and essential infrastructure work are listed below.)

People may also leave their home to work for or obtain services at any “health care operations,” which include hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmacies, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, health care suppliers, mental health providers, or veterinary clinics.

All bars and nightclubs have been ordered to close, along with all indoor gyms and recreation facilities. Restaurants and cafes must close, but can still offer takeout and delivery.

Employers who do not provide essential businesses or government services must “take all steps necessary for employees to work from home to the extent possible.”

In situations where individuals do interact outside of the home, they must stay at least six feet away from each other, cover coughs and sneezes, wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as frequently as possible or use hand sanitizer, and not shake hands.

No person who is sick may go to the workplace or be outside the home “except as necessary to seek or receive medical care in accordance with guidance from public health officials.”

All first responders, emergency management personnel, emergency dispatchers, court personnel, law enforcement personnel, and others working for or to support essential businesses are exempt from the order.

Those experiencing homelessness are also exempt from the self-isolation order, but are “strongly urged” to find shelter. Governmental and other entities are “strongly urged to make such shelter available as soon as possible and to the maximum extent possible.”

Violations of the order may be charged criminally as a misdemeanor. The state has requested that the Blaine County Sheriff and local chiefs of police enforce the new requirements.

 "I can't speak for all the different law enforcement agencies in this valley, but I know that law enforcement is anticipating that citizens of Blaine County recognize the severity in this order, and do the best they can to comply with it," Blaine County spokesman Larry Schoen told the Idaho Mountain Express Friday night. "I don't think anybody wants to throw anyone in jail over this. I just think they want them to stay healthy."

Here’s what’s allowed:

Essential activities include:

  • Activities that are “essential to their health and safety,” such as getting medical supplies or medicine, visiting a doctor, or obtaining supplies needed to work from home
  • Obtaining necessary supplies, such as groceries, cleaning supplies, or pet food
  • Outdoor activities such as walking, hiking, bicycling, or running
  • Caring for a family member or pet in another household

Essential travel includes:

  • Any travel related to the provision of or access to essential activities, essential government functions, or essential businesses
  • Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons
  • Travel to or from educational institutions to receive materials for distance learning, receive meals, or any other related services
  • Travel to return to your home from outside the county
  • Travel required by law enforcement or court order
  • Travel required for non-residents to return to their home outside Blaine County

Essential businesses include:

  • Grocery stores and other food markets
  • Farms, fishing operations, and other businesses that cultivate food
  • Businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services
  • Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services
  • Gas stations and auto repair shops
  • Banks and financial institutions
  • Hardware stores
  • Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, landscapers, and others who provide services “necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, essential activities, and essential businesses”
  • Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes
  • Educational institutions, including K-12 schools, colleges, and universities, “for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions, provided that social distancing of six feet per person is maintained to the greatest extent possible”
  • Laundromats and dry cleaners
  • Restaurants, but only for delivery or carry out
  • Businesses that supply products needed for people to work from home
  • Businesses that supply other essential businesses with necessary support or supplies
  • Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to residences
  • Airlines, taxis, and other private transportation providers that provide services necessary for essential activities
  • Home-based care for seniors, adults, or children
  • Residential facilities and shelters
  • Professional services, such as legal or accounting services, when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities
  • Childcare facilities providing services that enable employees exempted in the order to work, as long as childcare is “carried out in stable groups” and in “as small of groups as possible”

Infrastructure work includes:

  • Public works construction
  • Commercial construction
  • Construction of affordable housing or housing for individuals experiencing homelessness
  • Airport operations
  • Water, sewer, gas, and electrical work
  • Oil refining
  • Work on roads and highways
  • Public transportation
  • Solid waste removal and collection
  • Internet
  • Telecommunications systems

This is a developing story. For more, check mtexpress.com throughout the weekend. 

Email the writer: gkauffman@mtexpress.com

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