The Yakima Health District issued an order for Yakima County residents to stay at home to limit the transmission of COVID-19.

The order says people should remain at home except for essential travel for food, medication and medical care and for jobs that main continuity of operations of critical infrastructure.

The order went into effect on Sunday night and remains in effect until further notice.

Here are some questions and answers:

What essential services remain open?

Food, including grocery stores, convenience stores, food banks, and take-out and delivery restaurants; gas stations; pharmacies; banks; laundromats and laundry services; and essential state and local government functions.

What jobs are considered part of the critical infrastructure sector which can remain open?

  • Health care, public health.
  • Emergency services (law enforcement, fire department, public safety, public works).
  • Agriculture/food.
  • Energy (electricity, natural gas).
  • Water and wastewater.
  • Transportation and shipping.
  • Communications/IT.
  • Government and community operations (includes child care for children of critical function employees, other services that support availability of critical function employees).
  • Manufacturing that supports critical functions.
  • Financial services and legal services.
  • Hazardous material management, chemical manufacturing and management.

What’s closed?

  • Dine-in at restaurants.
  • Bars and nightclubs.
  • Entertainment venues.
  • Gyms, fitness studios, recreational facilities.
  • Public events and gatherings.
  • Convention centers.
  • Hair and nail salons.

Can I go outside?

Yes. The health district says you can go outside for exercise, while maintaining social distancing of at least 6 feet between individuals.

You can go for a walk, a hike or a bike ride, the health district said.

What about people who are working? 

For organizations that must remain open to provide essential services, every effort should be made to have employees work from home. If working from home is not an option, employers must ensure:

  • Proper social distancing (at least 6 feet between individuals).
  • Frequent sanitization of common areas.
  • Frequent handwashing opportunities for employees.
  • All sick employees, for any reason, stay at home to slow the spread of disease.

What about the mail?

U.S. Postal Service delivery is not affected by state and local actions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even if there’s not an exemption spelled out in a health order, postal operations are governed by federal law, not state and local law, according to information from the Seattle District office.

The USPS is working closely with state and local governments to continue service in a manner that protects employees and the public, USPS spokesman Ernie Swanson said.

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