While some states call for shelter-in-place orders, others are calling their directives stay-at-home orders. The directives differ by location but generally require people to avoid all nonessential outings and stay inside as much as possible.

They allow residents to continue performing tasks essential to the health and safety of family and pets. It’s still fine to buy groceries, go for a run, walk the dog, pick up medicine, visit a doctor or get supplies to work from home.

Federal guidelines give state and local authorities leeway in what they consider “essential” businesses during an emergency. But in general, those industries include grocery stores and food production, pharmacies, health care, utilities, shipping, banking, other governmental services, law enforcement, emergency services and news outlets.

Since each state can designate what is classified as essential, employers must be careful to follow regulations. Civil penalties could result from not following such executive orders.

As for the difference between an order and a guidance, in some cases it might be mostly semantics. In conservative states whose residents might be more leery of governmental intervention, elected officials may be more likely to tread lightly.

An example is what Texas Governor Greg Abbot said in telling resident to remain at home through April: “States that have adopted ‘stay-at-home’ policies or even some that use ‘shelter-in-place’ are very close to ours, which is, if you had to put a label on it, it would be ‘essential services and activities only.'”

For additional information visit our friends at USA TODAY.

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