All over the world, people are isolating at home and only heading outside for the essentials. All over the world, people are confused about what “essentials” actually means. With so many new rules suddenly governing how we live – how do you know if you’re breaking the law by doing something you’ve always done, like grabbing a bar of chocolate from the local store?
Though New York doesn’t quite have a statewide shelter in place, Andrew Cuomo has put the state “on pause”, shutting down all non-essential businesses and directing non-essential workers to work from home as of March 22nd.
So, what does that mean for you? To help you be sure you’re following the rules, without being stuck inside unnecessarily, we’ve gathered everything you can and can’t do during the NYC lockdown.
Can I visit my old or vulnerable relatives?
Cuomo introduced “Matilda’s Law”, which is designed to protect New York’s most vulnerable members of the population – that includes those above 70, those with a poor immune system and those with underlying health issues. The law prevents this group from leaving their homes and limits visitation to only their immediate family.
If you have an elderly or vulnerable relative and want to visit them, you’re allowed to do this by law providing you undertake a temperature test and are showing no flu-like symptoms. You should also wear a mask and gloves for your visit.
Can I buy groceries?
It’s best to keep visits to the grocery store to a minimum, but we’ve all gotta eat. If possible, plan two weeks in advance to avoid having to make extra visits. This doesn’t mean hoarding food or supplies!
The guidance is that New Yorkers can go out to buy food or essential supplies, which includes medicine. If more than one person lives at home, consider taking it in turns to buy what you need, to keep bodies in the stores to a minimum. Keep your distance, and wipe the handle of your grocery cart with a disinfecting wipe – then wash your hands when you get home.
Can I go outside for exercise?
It’s natural to feel like you’re going stir-crazy when you’re stuck inside, and with gyms closing across the state, how can you make sure you’re staying fit and healthy (and not losing those gains)? The good news is you can go to the park for a walk or jog – or even to just get some fresh air.
Make sure you keep a 6 feet distance between you and anyone else that doesn’t live in your house. For extra peace-of-mind, avoid touching surfaces outside such as benches, pull-up bars and the button on stop lights. It’s best to avoid drinking from water fountains, and even taking your shoes off before you enter your home (although no one actually knows if coronavirus sticks to shoes, this is a good rule-of-thumb, just in case.)
If you’re showing flu-like symptoms and are self-isolating, you must stay at home. Consider resting or – if you must get in a work-out – run up and down the stairs, or sign up for some online training videos.
Can I see my friends?
Unfortunately not. Unless you’re one of the lucky ones and you live with your friends, now is the time to cancel all dinner parties, board game nights and other gatherings. Social distancing means that you can only see other people in essential scenarios; that could be to offer medical assistance, buy food or exercise outdoors.
You can exercise with a friend who doesn’t live with you, as long as there are no more than two people in the group and you maintain the correct distance from each other.
What if you’re dating someone? Unfortunately, unless you live with your partner, now is the time to get creative with text messages or video calling!
What is the Governor’s 10-point NYS on PAUSE plan?
The governor has laid out a clear, 10-point policy to ensure safety for everyone across the state. The 10-point policy for New York is as follows:
- All non-essential businesses state-wide must close in-person operations.
- Non-essential gatherings of any size for any reason must be canceled or postponed.
- Any concentration of individuals outside their home must be limited to workers providing essential services and social distancing should be practiced.
- All individuals must remain at least six feet from others when in public.
- Businesses that provide essential services must implement policies that help facilitate social distancing of at least six feet.
- All individuals should limit outdoor recreational activities to non-contact, and avoid coming into close contact with others.
- Individuals should limit use of public transport to necessary travel only, and must remain at least six feet away from other riders.
- Individuals that are unwell must not leave their home unless to receive medical care, and only after a telehealth visit has determined that it is safe to do so.
- Young people should avoid contact with vulnerable groups.
- Everyone should use precautionary sanitizer practices and maintain high levels of personal hygiene.
Understanding the complexities behind coronavirus and what it means to you can be hard, so we’re trying to keep our community in-the-loop wherever we can. Read this guide on everything you need to know about the stimulus package for NYC.
Remember that information about the novel coronavirus is changing every day. While everything in this article was true at the time of publishing, information may have changed and you should carry out further research.