States and localities announced the new rules as the death toll in the United States surpassed 200, and as Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., recorded their first deaths. There have now been deaths in more than half the states, with the most in Washington State, New York and California.
State and local officials are trying to strike a balance between giving residents the leeway to shop and take the occasional much-needed walk, while doing what they can to slow the spread of infections.
It still remained to be seen how the new orders would be enforced, and how effective they would prove. Even after Italy imposed limitations on movements, it found itself confronting the worst coronavirus outbreak in Europe. When the vice president of the Chinese Red Cross, Sun Shuopeng, recently visited Milan, he suggested that the Italian authorities had not gone far enough.
New York will allow healthy people under age 70 to go out for groceries and medicines, and to exercise and walk outside, as long as they stay six feet away from others. Mass transit will continue to run so that healthcare workers and other people with other essential jobs can get to work, but people will be urged not to use it unless absolutely necessary. Nonessential gatherings of any size will be banned.
And certain essential businesses will be allowed to remain open, including: grocers, health care providers, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, banks, hardware stores, laundromats, child-care providers, auto repair, utilities, warehouses and distributors, plumbers and other skilled contractors, animal-care providers, transportation providers, construction companies and many kinds of manufacturers.