Orange County says health order is 'not a lockdown' after causing widespread confusion

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Thursday, March 19, 2020
Coronavirus: Health officials announces 42 cases in Orange County
Health officials announced there are 42 cases of coronavirus in Orange County, a sharp jump from 29 cases previously reported.

Officials in Orange County were prompted to clarify a public health order that created widespread confusion among residents after it was issued on Tuesday in response to the novel coronavirus.

County health officer Nichole Quick issued the order which banned nearly all gatherings "of any number of people," not including families that live together. The order went into effect immediately and would remain in place through March 31.

Hours later, the county's Emergency Operations Center issued a statement to clarify that it was not an order for residents to shelter in place and it was "not a lockdown," while stressing the importance for residents "to read the order in its entirety."

Many businesses were seen with closed doors at the Outlets at Orange on Tuesday, though officials said "it is important for all Orange County businesses to remain open while practicing social distancing."

The statement added that under the order, all bars and other establishments that serve alcohol but not food would close. Restaurants were also directed to close on-site dining and only offer pick-up, delivery and drive-thru services.

"Unfortunately, the order as written caused wide-spread confusion. In order to provide additional clarity requested by Orange County residents and businesses, the county will be issuing an amended Health Officer's Order."

Other "essential activities," including health care operations, grocery stores and other businesses that sell "necessities of life" would not be impacted, according to the original order.