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Governor Brad Little took a sharp turn on his approach to dealing with the spread of COVID-19. On March 23, Little said it was up to cities to decide whether to close bars and restaurants, citing a need for individual cities to make their own decisions. However, Little announced Wednesday, March 25, in the early afternoon, that he will sign another emergency declaration and issue a stay home order across the state effective that same day.

“Idaho’s situation with coronavirus is changing rapidly, as you all know,” he said. “Idaho is one of the last five states to have a confirmed case of the coronavirus. … The experts tell us that the timing of decisions is important.”

What this means for Idahoans is, tangibly, non-essential workplaces must find ways for their workers to work remotely, and all Idahoans should find ways to self-isolate in their homes. Essential workforce members will continue to work, which includes food and medical workers, mostly. Little's statewide order is expected to be finalized by the end of March 25, when it will be made available at the State of Idaho's COVID-19 website. Restaurants may remain open for take out, but dine-in operations at all restaurants in the state must cease immediately.

The order will last 21 days, at which time Little plans to meet with healthcare officials and stakeholders to discuss if it should be extended, he said. 

“Given the spread of coronavirus in Idaho, I am signing a new extreme emergency declaration,” Little said. “The state, and me as your governor, need to be able to react quickly.”

He said in his remarks that people should still go out and exercise, but maintain caution and allow for six feet of distance from others while away from home.

What is unclear is how this will be enforced. Little repeatedly said it is “relative” to each situation, but believes that following Boise and Blaine County’s examples, people will comply.

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