On Thursday, Los Angeles County ordered that everyone stay at home except for essential activities like buying food, getting medical care, taking care of someone, or going to an “essential” job. Later that evening, California issued a similar order.
But something was unclear: The county specifically mentioned that the guidelines didn’t apply to just going out to walk your dog, hike, or get exercise as long as you maintained your distance from other people and didn’t try to use facilities that were closed, like playground/gym equipment. The state didn’t.
And while I’m reasonably certain that we’re not at the point where they’re going to be arresting or fining people just for walking around the block, I don’t want to be like the guy who explained to Italian police that “I have to hunt the Pokemon” when they charged him for breaking quarantine.
State officials clarified it to the press on Friday:
“Californians can still go hiking and biking outdoors without violating Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “safer at home” order issued Thursday, state officials say. Though many activities have been curtailed to prevent the spread of coronavirus, going outdoors isn’t one of them.”
Good – that explains why South Coast Botanic Garden sent out the notice that they were still open for hiking despite cancelling events. They have stopped taking payments at the gate, though, which is understandable.
And today the state’s official page on the directive features this clarification:
Can I still exercise? Take my kids to the park for fresh air? Take a walk around the block? Walk my dog?
Yes. So long as you are maintaining a safe social distance of six feet from people who aren’t part of your household, it is ok to go outside for exercise, a walk or fresh air.
For now, at least.