California Coronavirus Lockdown: Grocery Store Hours and Essential Services Open

On Thursday, March 19, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a lockdown in California, ordering Californians to stay at home. The lockdown aims to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which has impacted California—as of March 21, there were 1,468 positive cases and 27 deaths in the state.

California Coronavirus Lockdown

The California government is telling its residents to stay at home and a message on the state's website says: "Everyone is required to stay home except to get food, care for a relative or friend, get necessary health care, or go to an essential job. If you go out, keep at least 6 feet of distance."

Despite the lockdown, which doesn't prohibit residents from going outside, California saw crowds gather at its beaches and nature spots this weekend. The Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, said in a briefing on Sunday: "This weekend we saw too many images of too many people crowding beaches or canyons beyond their capacity.

"Too many people, too close together, too often. The longer we do that, the more people will get sick, and the more people will die. There's no way to sugarcoat that."

Santa Monica has responded by closing the parking lots at its beaches to deter crowds and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority announced that it would be closing its popular parks and trails.

Yesterday, President Donald Trump approved California's request for a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to help California's COVID-19 emergency response efforts. Governor Newsom said: "Earlier today we requested a presidential Major Disaster Declaration and this afternoon we got it.

"The declaration will supplement our state's comprehensive COVID-19 surge planning and make vital resources available. We appreciate the quick response and partnership from the White House."

A selection of produce for sale at a food shop located inside Grand Central Terminal in New York, New York. Robert Alexander/Getty

Grocery Stores Hours

During the California lockdown, grocery stores will remain open but may operate with updated hours. As well as grocery stores, farmers' markets, food banks, convenience stores, take out, and delivery restaurants will also remain open.

  • Sam's Club stores will be open from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Sunday hours will remain at 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Target is reducing its store hours and closing all stores by 9 p.m.
  • Walmart stores will be open from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. Any Walmart stores already operating with more reduced hours will continue as normal.

Some stores are opening early for senior citizens, such as Northgate Gonzales Market in Southern California, which will open for senior citizens between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. and Dollar General, which is dedicating the first hour of opening to senior citizens. Whole Foods has updated hours that vary by store and is opening at 7 a.m. for customers aged 60 and older.

What are essential services?

While stores and some restaurants are closing, essential services such as pharmacies and banks will remain open. The essential services that will remain open in California include:

  • Gas stations;
  • Pharmacies;
  • Banks;
  • Laundromats and laundry services; and
  • Essential state and local government functions such as law enforcement.

During the California lockdown, dine-in restaurants, bars, nightclubs, entertainment venues, gyms, fitness studios, convention centers, hair and nail salons will be closed. California residents are permitted to leave their house to access grocery stores and essential services, but social events and public gatherings are prohibited.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before; during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • If you feel unwell (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and call local health authorities in advance.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.