California Residents, Ordered to Stay Home to Curb Coronavirus, Cope

VOA News By Elizabeth Lee

LOS ANGELES – California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an order Thursday night for all residents in the most populous state in the U.S. to stay home until further notice. 

In Los Angeles, a city infamous for its congested roads, traffic is now light. Playgrounds are empty, and restaurants are only open for takeout and delivery. 

With the new order, dine-in restaurants, entertainment venues, health clubs and public events will have to close. Only essential services, such as gas stations, grocery stores, pharmacies, laundromats and banks will remain open.  

“Eerie, it’s eerie out there,” M.J. Shoenberg, a Los Angeles resident and preschool teacher, said. 

Stress on businesses  

Grocery stores have become a stressful experience, with lines out the door because some stores are limiting the number of people who can shop inside at the same time.   

Items such as toilet paper, hand sanitizer and even eggs are hard to find. 

“If I were to get sick, it seems very clear to me that I would get sick from being in a grocery store, touching handles, pushing carts, opening doors, listening to conversations, people coming and asking me questions,” Sadie Verley, an Oakland resident, said. She noticed that many people were not observing the recommended social distancing while waiting in line to check out. 

“There is a lot of tension in the grocery store. I noticed that people are kind of crowding the grocery store,” Verley said.  

“I was glad that the farmers market was open,” said Shoenberger, who by chance saw a small outdoor farmers market — three vendors — by a park. She bought some fresh vegetables without having to wait in line.  

One of the vendors, a Mexican food stand operator, said that since the pandemic, he has lost 80 percent of his business. 

If California were a nation, it would be the fifth-largest economy in the world. The impact the governor’s order has on the economy will depend on how long the pandemic lasts and how many weeks the order will be in place.  

New normal  

Families are adjusting to the new normal.  

For the past week, Mia McNiece’s three children, 5, 7 and 10, have been out of school and home schooling online. 

McNiece has also been working from home. So when the governor ordered everyone to stay home, it did not immediately make a big difference to her family, she said, but “it is a little more scary.” 

“So far it’s been good. It’s just kind of this weird new world that we’re all adjusting, but as the weeks go on, I think it’s definitely going to become more challenging,” she said. “My youngest is already saying she misses school and she misses her friends, and that’s heartbreaking to hear.” 

If there is a bright side to this order, Californians said they see more adults and children going outside for walks, and McNiece said there is now more family time. 

“It’s nice to be able to spend more time together, uninterrupted time, and go on walks. We see other neighbors out and about,” she said.