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What is a stay-at-home order?

Many people are asking, “can I take my dog for a walk?” or “can I go to the store?”

ST. LOUIS — Several states and cities have issued a ‘stay-at-home’ order amid the coronavirus pandemic. But what does that mean?

The City of St. Louis and St. Louis County have both issued stay-at-home orders, which went into effect on March 23 and will last for 30 days. 

St. Charles County issued a stay-at-home order that began on March 24 at 12:01 a.m. Under the guidelines, people are to "remain within their residence or on the property surrounding their residence, except to engage in activities they deem necessary to their physical, mental or spiritual well-being, or for employment."

“The restrictions do not specify which businesses are essential,” Ehlmann said in the release. “Businesses and residents, not County Government, should determine what is essential. There is no way government can be aware of the unique needs of every individual."

Jefferson County's also went into effect on March 24 at 12:01 a.m. The order will remain in effect until April 23.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a statewide stay-at-home order on March 21. In Illinois, the order is expected to last until at least April 7. Click here for more information on Illinois' order

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Many people are asking, “can I take my dog for a walk?” or “can I go to the store?”

Residents can still go on walks and enjoy the outdoors as long as they practice social distancing.

The order still allows people to seek essentials like groceries and medicine.

Essential businesses and operations include:

All businesses are allowed to maintain the value of inventory and infrastructure, provide security, process payroll or employee benefits, or facilitate employees working remotely, but are required to cease all other activities.

Health care facilities and businesses that produce or provide medical care, supplies or medicine – this does not include fitness centers or gyms, massage parlors, tattoo shops, salons, nail salons or similar establishments.

Grocery stores, convenience stores or other places that sell food or household consumer products, restaurants and bars – but only for pickup/curbside/delivery

Nonprofits that ship or deliver groceries, food or goods, provide shelter, utilities, social services or other necessities

Food cultivations including farming, livestock and fishing

Food and beverage wholesaling, storage, warehousing and distribution business

Newspapers, television, radio and other media

Gas stations, vehicle-supply, vehicle-repair and related facilities

Banks and financial institutions

Hardware stores

Places that provide mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes

Laundromats and laundry service providers

Transportation services including rental, taxis and rideshares

Home-based care for seniors, adults or children

Facilities and shelters for adults and children

Long-term care facilities including hospice

Hotels and other commercial lodging

Professional services including accountants, lawyers and engineers


Childcare facilities providing services to first responders and all emergency personnel

Manufacture, distribution and supply chain for exempt businesses

Federal, state and local government

Officials are also urging anyone who went on a ‘spring break’ trip to self-quarantine for 14 days. Mayor Lyda Krewson shared the following tweet,

The City of St. Louis and St. Louis County shared some popular questions they both have received since issuing the order.

Q: What is the purpose or the intent of this order and who does it apply to?

A: The order applies to individuals in the City of St. Louis. The intent is to further restrict social mixing & ensure the maximum number of people stay at home in order to slow the spread of COVID-19

Q: What about church and other places of worship?

A: They are considered essential and are allowed to hold services, but they must adhere to a previous City order restricting public gatherings and events to no more than 10 people.

Q: What if I don't comply with this order?

A: We believe most people want to people will comply because they want to help us #FlattenTheCurve.

However, we will enforce the order if violations are brought to our attention. It is a class A misdemeanor to violate this order.

Q: Am I allowed to go visit a loved one or hang out with a friend?

A: Nonessential social mixing is prohibited. Per the order, individuals living within the City must remain inside their home except for essential activities related to employment, health/safety & outdoor exercise

Q: Can personal trainers train at a client's home? What about outdoors?

A: Personal training, even outdoors with a single client, is not allowed

Q: Is public transportation still running?

A: Yes! Though there may be reduced hours or service, the order considers roads/highways, airports, light rail, buses, ride shares, taxis & Amtrak essential. Check the individual schedules in advance, though!

Q: How do I prove that I'm allowed to be outside? Do I need to show proof that I work for an essential business?

A: The order assumes that citizens will that take their civic duties seriously and follow the order for the greater good of the community. There is no requirement of proof that you are allowed to be outside your residence.

Q: I have a wedding planned soon, can I still go?

A: Small weddings with fewer than 10 individuals present are allowed.

Q: Can I still get deliveries from online stores? Can I order from online stores?

A: Yes. The mail and other services that deliver to your home can continue to function, as can food delivery services. You can place orders from online stores. Businesses that deliver goods or services directly to residences are essential businesses that may continue to operate.

Q: Can a pool stay open?

A: No. Public and private pools should be closed for the duration of the order.

Q: Is recreational biking OK?

A: Yes, recreational biking is allowed as long as social distancing requires are met.

Q: Can I go buy my pet food or take my pet to the vet?

A: Yes - your pet's needs are considered essential too.

Q: I don't have a washer/dryer in my home. Can I leave to do laundry?

A: Yes. You can go to a laundromat and other laundry service providers. Be sure you protect yourself and others by following social distancing guidelines.

Q: Does the order prevent people over age 60 from working?

A: No, employees over the age of 60 are not prohibited from working under the order if they are performing essential activities. The order does strongly urge (but does not require) persons in high-risk categories to stay in their residence to the extent possible.

Q: What do I do if my employer requires me to go to work?

A: If your employer is an essential business or provides an essential activity as defined by the order, you are allowed to go to work. If you believe that your job is non-essential, contact the County Counselor. Be sure you protect yourself and others by following social distancing guidelines such as washing hands, using hand sanitizer, and maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between workers. It is highly recommended that high-risk populations (like persons over 60 years old or persons with underlying health conditions) should stay at home. If a person has a fever, a cough, and shortness of breath, they should consult with a medical professional.

Q: Can I leave home to care for my elderly parents who require assistance to care for themselves? Or a family member who has disabilities?

A: Yes. Be sure that you protect them and yourself by following social distancing guidelines such as washing hands before and after, using hand sanitizer, maintaining at least 6 feet of distance when possible, and coughing or sneezing into a tissue.

Q: Do I have to report to jury duty?

A: Essential government functions are determined by the government entity that has jurisdiction. Please contact the appropriate government agency to determine whether you should appear. If required to appear, practice strong hygiene and social distancing.

For questions on the order in St. Louis, contact the City of St. Louis Department of Health at 314-612-5100.

St. Louis County said it has considered a variety of enforcement measures and will implement them as needed for people or businesses that don't comply. 

St. Louis County’s hotline is 314-615-2660, for general information visit stlcorona.com | Page also said if a business isn’t following the order, to contact: Countycounselorcovid19@stlouisco.com

Missouri's 24/7 hotline for general COVID-19 questions: 1-877-435-8411

On Saturday, Gov. Parson issued a statewide social distancing order, which is not the same as a stay-at-home order. The order will take effect beginning 12:01 a.m. Monday, March 23 and remain in effect until 12:01 a.m. Monday, April 6 unless extended by further order of the Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services.

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Many places like churches and museums are offering virtual sessions. 

RELATED: St. Louis City Museum launches virtual tours and classes during COVID-19 closure

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RELATED: Here are some museum virtual tours you can take while cooped up at home

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