A statewide “stay in place” order will be issued for all Idahoans, Gov. Brad Little announced Wednesday.
The full order has not yet been published online, but appears to resemble the order already in place in Blaine County. It will be posted on the state’s dedicated coronavirus webpage later today after it is finalized, the governor said.
“I am confident that the decisions we have made in Idaho over the past few weeks and months have been solidly grounded in the advice of our epidemiologists and our infectious disease experts,” Little told reporters in a press conference Wednesday afternoon. “That said, Idaho is now in a new stage.”
Public health officials announced Tuesday night that Ada County had its first case of COVID-19 community spread, meaning somebody who tested positive for the virus didn’t know where or how they could have gotten it.
The statewide order will go into effect immediately and remain in effect for 21 days, Little said. People will be required to self-isolate at home if possible, but can leave their house to “obtain essential services,” according to the governor. Employers are ordered to take “all steps necessary” to let employees work from home, Little said.
Essential businesses, such as grocery stores and medical centers, will remain open, but restaurants must close except for takeout and delivery, Little said. Bars, nightclubs, gyms, recreational facilities, and all other “nonessential businesses” must close altogether.
There will be restrictions on “nonessential gatherings” of any number of individuals, Little said. People can still go for a walk or bike ride, but must remain at least six feet apart.
Little did not say whether a person could be charged criminally for disobeying the order, but said that “peer pressure from communities” was the state’s “first preference” for enforcement.
“Our goal isn’t to arrest people,” Little said. “Our goal is to keep Idahoans safe by maintaining this stay-at-home order.”
Blaine County, which had 47 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of 2 p.m. Wednesday, was “part of the genesis for this decision because of the stress on their health system up there,” the governor told reporters.
“It was really important for us to preserve capacity in the Twin Falls area and in the Treasure Valley,” Little said. “There’s a nexus between all those issues.”
The governor on Wednesday also signed a new "extreme emergency declaration," which he said would allow the state to "more effectively increase health care capacity, take steps to reduce and slow coronavirus spread, and take rapid and decisive steps to improve the condition of Idahoans whose job and incomes are being harmed by the pandemic."