The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (March 2020) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
A stay-at-home order (North America) or a movement control order (Southeast Asia) is an order from an authority to restrict movements of population as a mass quarantine strategy for suppressing or mitigating an epidemic or pandemic by ordering residents to stay home except for essential tasks or going to work in essential businesses. In many cases, outdoor activities are allowed. Nonessential businesses are either closed or changed to be working from home. In some regions, it has been implemented as a round-the-clock curfew or called a shelter-in-place order, but it is not to be confused with a shelter in place situation. Similar measures have been used around the world, but the term lockdown is used instead. Some officials have a concern that the word lockdown may send a wrong message for people to incorrectly think that it includes door-to-door searching for infected people to be forced into quarantines similar to the Wuhan lockdown.
The term lockdown was used by the media and the World Health Organization (WHO) to describe the action taken in January 2020 by the government of China to restrict movements of people in order to control the outbreak of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Wuhan. When Italian authorities imposed a strict quarantine order in the northern part of the country, the media also used the term lockdown, which was used for Spain and France, as well as other countries around the world. Although it is not a technical term in public health or laws, the media continued to use lockdown to describe the actions taken by these governments. As the lockdowns were expanded to other countries, there was a shift in the definitions. Measures are less restrictive and other terms emerged in attempts to differentiate from the most restrictive measure in China.
When the authorities in San Francisco Bay Area issued an order in March 2020 for residents to stay home to control the outbreak of COVID-19, they called it a shelter-in-place order. People were not familiar with it as the term shelter in place had been used in other emergency situations such as an active shooter which would require seeking a safe place to hide within the same building that the person already occupies until the situation is resolved. This caused confusion to the residents under the order on what exactly they are supposed to do.
When Governor Gavin Newsom announced the state-wide order for California which would supersede the Bay Area's order, he used the term stay-at-home order instead. Other US states started using the new term when they announced their statewide order. In a press conference, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York criticized anyone using the term shelter in place for his stay-at-home order as it would invoke panic due to its association with active shooting situations or nuclear wars.
In the United States, the term lockdown has been widely used in emergency preparedness. A lockdown procedure requires immediate actions in hiding and locking all doors. Additional actions may be taken such as turning off lights and staying away from windows. Students in all grade levels around the country participate in lockdown drills on a regular basis.
The word lockdown can also be associated a martial law to mean that people cannot leave their homes. In an attempt to avoid confusion, Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago made a comment about the stay-at-home order of Illinois by trying to differentiate it from a lockdown or a martial law.
When states and counties across the United States issued an order to have residents to remain home, they either called it shelter-in-place order or stay-at-home order. It has been clarified that these orders are not lockdowns because residents are allowed to go in and out of their homes in limited circumstances. Some jurisdictions have determined that there is a legal or practical distinction between the terms "stay-at-home" and "shelter-in-place".
In the United States, the United States constitutional law gives a police power to the states. State governments can use this power within their own state. However, there is no clear authority for either the federal government or state governments to impose such a lockdown between states. In term of legality of an order, the government must be able to prove that the order advances a "compelling government interest" and the actions are narrow to specifically achieve that goal and they are not unnecessary broad.
The scope of the lockdowns or stay-at-home orders can vary. There is no universal definition of what is deemed essential. Some orders allow residents to come out for outdoor activities. When residents come out of the house, the social distancing rules are typically applied. Some examples of essential services are banks, gas stations, grocery stores, medical offices, pharmacies, and restaurants (without dining in).
In more restrictive measures in some locations, they require residents to carry paperwork in order to go out to do essential tasks. In the most restrictive orders such as in China and Italy, they are considered to amount to cordon sanitaires.
In the early days of China's lockdown to combat COVID-19, many[quantify] public-health officials and the World Health Organization praised the efforts in helping to slow the spread of the disease. However, many[quantify] public-health experts regard the measures as ineffective and unethical, expressing concern about a violation of public trust - which is required in order to have cooperation from the public to make social-distancing measures effective.
On 22 March 2020, the Government of India decided to completely lockdown 82 districts in 22 states and Union Territories of country where confirmed cases have been reported till 31 March. Essential services and commodities were allowed. 80 cities including major cities such as Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Kolkata were also put under lockdown until 31 March. The country entered complete lockdown from 25 March 2020 for 21 days amid increase in number of cases.
On 23 March 2020, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern raised New Zealand's COVID-19 alert level to three and announced the closure of all schools beginning on that day. The Government also announced that they would raise the national alert level to four at 11:59 p.m. on 25 March 2020, which would lead to a nationwide lockdown. While all sporting matches and events as well as non-essential services such as pools, bars, cafes, restaurants, playgrounds are required to close in 48 hours, essential services such as supermarkets, petrol stations, and health services will remain open.
On 3 April 2020, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that Singapore will be strengthening its restrictions in view of evidence of growing spread within the community and the risk of asymptomatic spread from 7 April to 4 May. All non-essential services such as retail, recreation, sports and attractions, as well as schools are required to close during this period. Essential services such as supermarkets, some eateries, petrol kiosks, logistics, basic haircuts, public transport, facilities management, management of key IT infrastructures and health services will remain open with stringent restrictions.These measures include the prohibition of dining-in in eateries, suspending and/or reducing the frequency of bus and MRT services, and requiring almost all commercial and educational services to work and study from home respectively. All mid-year exams in primary, secondary schools and junior colleges, as well as graduation ceremonies during this period are cancelled. Military in-camp training for NSmen are also postponed till further notice.
At 8:30 p.m. on 23 March 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a stay-at-home order effective immediately. All non-essential shops and services were ordered to close, and police were given discretion to break up gatherings of more than two people. Johnson stated that the stay-at-home order will be reviewed after three weeks.
Stay-at-home orders in the United States have come from several states and a large number of local jurisdictions, sometimes leading to conflicts between different levels of government and a patchwork of inconsistent dates and rules.
On 15 March 2020, Puerto Rico governor Wanda Vázquez Garced signed an executive order to order all citizens to stay home starting at 9 p.m. with exceptions in limited circumstances between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. Governmental operations and non-essential businesses were to be closed until 30 March.
The first order within the states was simultaneously imposed by health authorities in heart of the the San Francisco Bay Area (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties and the cities of San Francisco and Berkeley) effective 17 March 2020, affecting nearly 6.7 million people. Other cities and counties across the state followed suit over the next two days, until Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, issued a statewide order effective 19 March 2020.
On 20 March 2020, New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced the statewide stay-at-home order with a mandate that 100% of non-essential workforce to be conducted as working from home effective 22 March. Illinois governor J. B. Pritzker followed that lead on the same day with a statewide order which would go into effect on 21 March at 5 p.m. Ned Lamont, the governor of Connecticut, signed an executive order called "Stay Safe, Stay At Home" to take effect statewide on 23 March at 8 p.m.
On 22 March 2020, Ohio governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health director Amy Acton issued a statewide stay-at-home order effective 23 March. In the afternoon, the Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards announced a statewide stay-at-home order in a press conference. Delaware governor John Carney followed suit with a stay-at-home order for his state.
On 23 March 2020, several state governors announced their statewide stay-at-home order:
On 24 March 2020, Wisconsin governor Tony Evers issued a statewide stay-at-home order to close all non-essential businesses and ordered no gatherings of any size effective 25 March until 24 April. Vermont governor Phil Scott signed a stay-at-home order and directed closure of in-person operations of non-essential businesses effective 25 March until 15 April.
On 25 March, Idaho governor Brad Little and Minnesota governor Tim Walz issued stay-at-home orders for their respective states. Colorado Govenor Jared Polis puts the state of Colorado in complete lock-down, with a stay at home order. This started on Thursday the 26th at 6 a.m. and lasts through 11 April 2020.
On 2 April, Georgia governor Brian Kemp issued stay-at-home order effective Friday, April 3, 2020, until Monday, April 13, 2020.  It overrules any local stay-at-home restrictions previously in place, and instructs residents to stay at home unless they're conducting "essential services," meaning either traveling to and from jobs or other exceptions, including buying groceries; purchasing medical equipment; going out to exercise; and visiting medical facilities. The same day, Dr. Anthony Fauci publicly questions why all states are not under stay-at-home orders.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said in his update Sunday Dr. Amy Acton is ordering a stay at home order or shelter in place order for all Ohioans. The order is in effect beginning midnight Monday and is in effect through April 6.