When COVID-19 first landed in the United States in February, Austinites began adapting to a new form of situational terminology. In the world of threatening pandemics and emergency situations, the phrases Shelter-in-Place and Social Distancing have now become part of our modern vocabulary.
Ever since the spread of the COVID-19 virus became a serious threat in the United States, most Americans began simplifying everything by promoting, #StayatHome, as their preferred term to comply with the rules and to avoid becoming infected. A some areas are experiencing an increased number of infected individuals, counties and states around the country are issuing appropriate orders based on the elevation of the threat in their communities.
Social Distancing was created to promote a minimum of 6 feet of proximity between individuals, as a means slowing the transmission of the virus. Practicing it protects people from exposure while in public venues and multiple situations where we may visit others outside of our immediate household, especially if an individual is unknowingly carrying the virus
At most, Social Distancing is a very strong suggestion to avoid areas where multiple people are grouped together. The risk may be slightly lower at small gatherings, but it has led to multiple cities and states to initiate a state of emergency which resulted in prohibiting in-house dining at restaurants and bars to force limited contact to those who only share the same living space.
Shelter In Place
On Tuesday, March 24th, Mayor Steve Adler issued a ‘Shelter-in-Place’ order in the Austin area, forcing multiple businesses, public events and gatherings to become prohibited. Before the term was used to protect citizens from exposure, it was mostly used in situations meant for the public to seek shelter from hurricanes, tornadoes and storms.
Unlike Social Distancing, a Shelter-In-Place order is a legal declaration with the potential for a $1000 fine or a determined time of imprisonment if an individual is found to host a public gathering or group event. It moves beyond the strong suggestion of practicing Social Distancing, to more of a legal agreement enforced on to the public.
The State of Texas has not issued an official declaration for a Shelter-in-Place rule, but metropolitan areas like Austin and Dallas have initiated their own orders.
Currently, the United States is not in a mandatory lockdown situation, unlike France and Italy. However with the number of confirmed cases that are testing positive and growing death rate each day, an official lockdown order might be coming soon.