The city of Fresno issued a voluntary shelter in place order Wednesday to go into effect Thursday at midnight. Residents are being asked to leave their homes for essential services only.
The long list of essential services includes grocery stores, medical care, transportation, banks, pharmacies and farming. Residents who do go out, or work in these services, are asked to stay six feet apart from each other. Mayor Lee Brand said the goal is to prevent a significant spike in COVID-19 cases that would overwhelm local hospitals.
“This is the biggest decision any of us have made in our political careers. It has profound implications, life and death implications,” he said.
Non-essential services include gyms, movie theaters and clothing stores. At the city council emergency meeting, California assemblymember Joaquin Arambula urged youth in particular to take it seriously.
“I need to remind you, you can spread this virus to your parents, your grandparents and anyone else you come in contact with,” he said.
One council member, Garry Bredefeld, said he agreed with social distancing but was worried about the effect of the order on service industries.
“I’m concerned about our small business, our workers that we’ve shut down. People who live paycheck-to-paycheck are now out of a job,” Bredefeld said.
Council member Luis Chavez said gas, electricity, water and garbage pick up will not be shut off if people can’t pay their bills.
After the emergency meeting, City Manager Wilma Quan signed an executive order stating that all people over 65 be allowed to work from home when possible.
Residents can still do outdoor activities such as hiking, walking and running but should always practice social distancing. City parks are open and are not collecting parking fees.
The order will last until Mar. 31 and may be extended.
The city of Clovis and Fresno County both said Wednesday they will not be taking similar measures at this time.