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What you can & can't do and which businesses are open during shelter-at-home

What is considered non-essential? We explain.
Posted at 9:19 AM, Mar 19, 2020

The County of San Luis Obispo has issued an order for people to shelter-at-home starting at 5 p.m. Thursday.

Local authorities are calling for the temporary suspension of "non-essential" services and businesses during the order which has left many wondering, what is considered non-essential?

Here's a list of the businesses and industries San Luis Obispo County officials say are allowed to continue operating despite the shelter-at-home order:


  • Public safety and first responders, including dispatch and emergency response
  • Utility companies - sewer, gas, electrical, internet and water
  • Airport operations
  • Transportation providers - buses, taxi, ride-share operators
  • Essential government operations (check with each jurisdiction)
  • Non-profit and educational entities, to the extent that they provide essential services
  • Health care operations - doctors, dentists, pharmacies, veterinarians, mental health professionals
  • Banks and related financial institutions
  • Mailing and shipping services
  • Laundromats, dry cleaners and other laundry services
  • Restaurants and other food serves can remain open ONLY for delivery or carry-out
  • Businesses that ship groceries to residents
  • Home-based care for seniors, adults or children
  • Grocery stores
  • Food banks
  • Certified farmers' markets
  • Stores that provide household items such as sanitary items
  • Food cultivation such as farming, livestock and fishing
  • Businesses that provide food, shelter, social services and other necessities
  • Newspapers, television and radio
  • Gas stations, auto supply and auto repair
  • Hardware stores
  • Plumbers, electricians, exterminators
  • Businesses that allow people to work from home (example, office-supply stores)
  • Businesses that allow other businesses to remain open (example, custodial)
  • Childcare services

San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon says the following non-essential businesses and services are not allowed to operate for the time being:


  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Movie theaters
  • Amusement centers
  • Bars and nightclubs
  • Salons, barbers and spas
  • Auto sales
  • Clothing retail
  • Bookstores
  • Other retail
  • Private clubs
  • Industrial and manufacturing not related to essential function

Shelter-at-home does not mean you must stay indoors 24/7 until the order is listed. County officials say you are allowed to do the following:

  • Go for a hike, walk or bike ride so long as you keep 6+ feet away from others
  • Go grocery shopping
  • Go to the pharmacy
  • Go to the doctor/dentist/veterinarian
  • Order delivery or take-out from local restaurants

Authorities are asking people to avoid these activities:

  • Group gatherings
  • Leaving your home for anything non-essential
  • Spending time with friends, family members, neighbors or co-workers who are sick
  • Touching your face

The shelter-at-home order goes into effect on Thursday, March 19 at 5 p.m. and will remain in place until April 17. Officials say the order will be reviewed every 14 days.