California’s 40 million residents have been told to only leave their homes when absolutely necessary during the coronavirus pandemic.
State governor Gavin Newsom issued the state-wide “stay at home” order, which has taken effect from Thursday evening and will remain in place until further notice.
He said the state needed to “recognise the reality” and “make tough decisions”, although conceded that home isolation was not his “preferred choice”.
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The governor said modelling has shown 56% of California residents are expected to contract COVID-19 over the next eight weeks, requiring nearly 20,000 more hospital beds than the state can currently provide.
He warned infection rates are doubling every four days in some parts of the state.
Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest city, is likely to be “disproportionately impacted” in the coming weeks, Mr Newsom added.
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The new order means non-essential services including restaurants, bars and gyms will shut down.
However the home isolation measures will not be enforced by police.
The latest developments across the world:
- Iran’s Mission to the United Nations has said the “inhumane and unlawful” US sanctions are hampering efforts to prevent COVID-19 cases in the country, urging the international community to help lift the sanctions
- Haiti has confirmed its first two cases of COVID-19 and announced it will close all airports, schools, factories and seaports
- Cannes Film Festival has been postponed, with organisers saying they are considering moving the festival to June or July
- South Korea will test all passengers coming from Europe for coronavirus and enforce two-week quarantines beginning on Sunday
- North Korea says it has released thousands of people from quarantine, although has not publicly confirmed a single case of COVID-19
- Australia has demanded indoor venues provide at least four square metres of space between each person and tightened regulations on travel to and from remote indigenous communities
Earlier on Thursday, Mr Newsom asked President Donald Trump to send a US Navy hospital ship to the port of Los Angeles “immediately” to deal with an expected surge in coronavirus cases.
The State Department has issued a travel alert urging Americans not to go abroad under any circumstances and to return home if they are already abroad unless they plan to remain overseas.
The US has also been considering measures to immediately turn back anyone who crosses the border from Mexico illegally, including asylum seekers.