What Is The Differnece Between Stay-At-Home, Shelter-In-Place and Lockdown Orders?

Photo: Travis Saylor

(Southside Light News)--Health and public safety experts across the country are telling people to stay home as much as they can to help stop the spread of the deadly Cornoavirus. Here locally as of Wednesday morning there have been 10 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus here in Nueces County and as local leaders grapple with the tough decision about what to do and what to call it, many local residents are asking what the difference is.  

Leaders in some cities are referring to some of these measures as "shelter-in-place" orders, while others, like Austin, have issued "stay-at-home" orders. Each area seems to have their own guidelines as to exactly what that means and as you would expect, there is little previous guidance anywhere. 

So, what exactly is the difference between stay-at-home and shelter-in-place? 
The truth is: Not Much. 
No matter what you call it or how pundits spin it, the fact remains that it is what it is. 
The only difference is really that a full-fledged lockdown would likely be seen as martial law and almost nobody would go for that. 
In essence, they are really both the same and folks like here in Nueces County who live by the refineries are well accustomed to hearing the term "shelter-in-place", especially during a plant emergency. What this type of Shelter-in-Place means is NOT close your windows and doors and turn off your air conditioner. It means simply "stay-at-home" unless you absolutely have to go out and about. 
Wouldn't that be considered at "stay-at-home" order? Legal experts that we spoke with from UT, Texas A&M and Baylor all say the same thing. To them it is simply all about public perception. 
The word "LOCKDOWN" sends the message of panic and visions of martial law start going through people's mind. Experts warn that using that type of term could spark mass panic. 
"Stay-at-home" and "Shelter-in-Place" are widely used terms that they say have essentially the same meaning and either or could also create mass panic and confusion. 
We have been able to see no instances of a "Lockdown" style order being put into place anywhere across the country and it does not seem that Nueces County would set that precedence. 
Legal experts say that it is simply another strongly worded way of telling you to stay put at home and help stop the spread unless you absolutely have to go out.