Governor issues statewide stay-home order, signs extreme emergency declaration

Catie Clark//March 25, 2020

Governor issues statewide stay-home order, signs extreme emergency declaration

Catie Clark//March 25, 2020

photo of cancelled activities sign
Gov. Brad Little ordered Idahoans to stay home for the next 21 days. Photo by Sharon Fisher

Updated on March 26 to clarify the number of states with stay-home orders.

Following the guidance of Idaho’s public health experts, Gov. Brad Little issued a statewide stay-home order on March 25 for all Idahoans. The announcement was made at a press conference held upstairs from the state’s emergency operations center at the Idaho National Guard base at Gowen Field in Boise.

The statewide stay-home order is effective immediately and will remain in effect for 21 days. Little and public health officials will evaluate later whether to extend the order past 21 days. Idaho is the 20th state to issue a stay-home order.

“Idaho is now in a new stage,” Little began. “Confirmed community transmission is now occurring in Idaho’s most densely populated areas.”

Little explained the reason for the step-up in emergency measures: “We’re sticking with what we’ve been (doing) all along, which is the CDC guidance … When you have community spread, then you have to go to the next level. And that’s what we’re doing. We’re following what we’ve said from my very first press conferences, (which is) following the guidance from the Center for Disease Control.”

The Governor signed an “extreme emergency declaration,” which allows the state to more effectively increase health care capacity, take steps to slow the COVID-19 virus’s spread and take rapid and decisive steps to improve the lives of Idahoans whose job and incomes are being harmed by the pandemic.

The stay-home order requires citizens to self-isolate at home even when not visibly sick. This excludes essential workers as defined in the full-text order, which will be posted on coronavirus.idaho.gov. People can leave home to obtain or provide essential services, which are also defined in the order.

Essential workers include health care, public safety and childcare providers. Essential services include grocery stores, medical facilities, gas stations and drug stores, among others.

Employers that do not provide essential services must take all steps necessary for employees to work remotely from home. Essential businesses will remain open. Restaurants across the state are being ordered to close dine-in, but drive-thru, pick up and delivery will still be available.

Non-essential businesses and services will close their physical locations. This includes bars, nightclubs, gyms, recreational facilities, entertainment venues, convention centers, hair and nail salons and others not included in the “essential” category as defined in the order.

Limitations are also in effect for discretionary travel and non-essential gatherings of any number of individuals outside the household. When walking, running, biking or engaging in other outdoor recreation, people are advised to stay 6 feet away from individuals who are not members of the same household.

“Our health care and public safety workers are putting themselves in harm’s way to respond to the coronavirus emergency, and we owe it to them to do our part by following this statewide stay-home order,” Little added.

Idaho is also taking steps to protect workers who have lost their jobs, people who may not be able to pay rent and citizens who might not be able to make utility and other payments during the emergency. Marissa Morrison, the Governor’s press secretary, said that details on unemployment claims and other aid will be issued by March 27.

At the Governor’s request, the National Guard is prepared to assemble a joint task force to provide mobile testing support; transport commodities; provide facilities, tents or other equipment; and perform other duties as needed in Idaho’s coronavirus response effort. The Idaho Office of Emergency Management, part of the Idaho Military Division, is the key emergency response planner and coordinator for inter-agency preparedness in Idaho.

“We will get through this together as long as we all play an active part in fighting the spread of coronavirus. I am proud of Idaho and the way we support and love our neighbors. Let’s keep it up,” Little concluded.