Stitt Issues Limited Orders to Stay at Home, Close Businesses

Mar 24, 2020

Gov. Kevin Stitt speaks at an update on the state's response to COVID-19 on Tuesday.
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Updated March 25, 5:35 a.m.  

Gov. Kevin Stitt took a number of new actions Tuesday to deal with COVID-19, including issuing an order requiring vulnerable populations to stay home until April 30.

The "safer at home" order applies to people with "serious underlying medical conditions" and those 65 and older.

Stitt is also ordering a 21-day closure of businesses deemed nonessential in counties with reported cases of the illness. That was at 19 on Tuesday, but counties will be included in the order if they get a case of COVID-19. Closures are in effect starting Wednesday.

Businesses considered nonessential include those mainly used for social gatherings, like bars, as well as many that include personal touch, like massage parlors and tattoo shops. Stitt's exact definition is any business not covered by U.S. Department of Homeland Security critical infrastructure designations or guidance he issued late Tuesday.

Medical marijuana dispensaries may remain open.

"In the 19 counties that we have positive cases, we want to get more restrictive, but the counties that don’t, we wanted to focus on the vulnerable population. That was the recommendation of our team of experts here," Stitt said.

Gatherings of 10 or more people across the state are also being restricted. Stitt said he believes those affected by his orders will comply.

Stitt is also ordering all on elective surgeries, minor procedures and nonemergency dental procedures postponed until at least April 7 to save needed medical equipment, and the suspension of visits to nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

And he announced the state will designate two hospitals for COVID-19 patients and ensure they get a supply of protective equipment for providers. Officials said more details on those hospitals will be announced later in the week.