Sacramento County public health officials on March 19 issued a “stay-at-home” order to the county’s residents in a dramatic move to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infections.

This formal declaration enables law enforcement agencies across the county to enforce the order that aims to keep residents at home as much as possible. Residents can leave their homes for “essential activities” such as grocery shopping and visiting medical centers.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on March 19 also issued a stay-at-home order to residents across the state.

Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert and Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones joined the county’s health services director, Dr. Peter Beilenson, to announce their county’s order. Their press conference was broadcast live on Facebook.

“It is everyone’s moral responsibility to act today, not tomorrow or next week,” Schubert said about the push to reduce the number of new COVID-19 cases in Sacramento County.

Sacramento County’s stay-at-home order was scheduled to go into effect on March 20 and last until April 7. County public health officials have the authority to extend the order past its current end date.

They were prompted to issue the order on March 19 after they announced that confirmed COVID-19 cases increased in Sacramento County. As of March 23, there were 88 cases and four deaths in Sacramento County, they said.

The Galt Police Department will be tasked to carry out Sacramento County’s stay-at-home order here in town.

Chief Tod Sockman told The Galt Herald that all of the Sacramento County police chiefs and sheriff are working together to ensure everyone is handling issues similarly.

According to Sheriff Jones’ March 19 statement, officers will focus on education rather than arrests for noncompliance.

“I want to be perfectly clear that neither the sheriff’s office nor any of the police departments have any desire to make arrests or take anybody to jail for violations of this order,” the sheriff said.

Sockman hopes that the Galt community can work together to do the right thing during this situation.

“We would hope that our residents and businesses understand how important it is to slow down and stop the spread of this pandemic,” Sockman said. “With that, voluntary compliance is important and enforcement would be the last resort.”

And, in case things don’t go according to plan, Sockman said that they have increased the number of patrol officers on the streets and are providing increased patrols at and around grocery stores.

County public health officials earlier issued a “shelter-in- place” directive on March 17, which strongly recommended that residents stay at home to avoid exposure to COVID-19.

Their new order now gets law enforcement involved, and it also calls for all retail businesses to close unless they provide “essential services” to the public. Non-essential businesses are only allowed to perform “minimum basic operations.”

County officials listed several examples of businesses or services they consider to be essential. They include supermarkets, farmers’ markets, health care centers, gas stations, banks, government agencies, hardware stores, schools, childcare centers, shipping companies, and care homes.

Restaurants can remain open, but they can only offer to go and delivery orders.

Sacramento County’s stay-at-home order also restricts all residents to only travel to essential sites. Shoppers can leave their homes to purchase groceries, medical supplies and cleaning products. Residents are advised to practice social distancing by staying at least six feet away from others when they walk outside or visit parks. They can also attend private gatherings at a home as long as there are less than six non-relatives there.

“The goal is to comply with social distancing, and limit groups from congregating together in a way that could further spread the virus,” county public health officials said in a press statement.

On March 18, the Galt city staff closed all of the city’s facilities to the public. The Galt police also closed their service center’s front counter.

“The police department lobby is closed for public access; however, we are still providing the same level of service to our community,” Sockman said. “A few more non-in progress crime reports may be handled over the phone or through our online reporting to reduce the amount of face to face contact. Other than that, our police services and response to calls for service remain the same.”

Sockman continued, “On behalf of the men and women of the Galt Police Department, I would like to thank all of our Galtonians for the their patience and understanding during this very trying time. We will get through this together.”

Bonnie Rodriguez contributed to this story.

When residents can leave their homes

Sacramento County’s “stay-at-home” order allows residents to only leave their homes if they are traveling to what county officials considered to be “essential” activities or sites.

Here are their examples:    

• Stores that sell essential household items such as food, cleaning supplies and groceries.

• Health care centers and stores that sell medical supplies.

• Residents are welcome to walk, hike, ride bicycles or run, as long as they stay at least six feet away from others.

• Businesses, public agencies or nonprofits that provide essential services or products

• Caring for a relative or a pet in another household.

• Private gatherings of less than seven non-relatives at a household

• County officials advise people to still practice social distancing at these gatherings.