Tending to a bonsai tree is ALLOWED.
Tending to a bonsai tree is ALLOWED. Karen Moskowitz/Getty Images

Gov. Jay Inslee announced a new shelter-in-place order for Washington on Monday. He didn't use the words "shelter-in-place," choosing to call it rather "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" like an afterschool PBS special. Inslee laid out some restrictions in his press conference—No beach parties! No pickup basketball! No sleepovers!—but Washingtonians still aren't clear on what the fuck they can or can't do.

What am I allowed to do as a person in this world?

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Besides living and breathing and social distancing, what personal freedoms do you have left outside of jerking it to Survivor reruns? A lot!

You can:

  • Go to the grocery store. Forget bars, grocery stores are the new hot spot. You can buy food there for recipes like this soup someone recommended to me on Twitter or this cake which has the recipe on the back. Maybe you can make eye contact with the grocery store worker but please do not waste their time with unnecessary questions. They're tired and they literally need space.
  • Go to the doctor. You are still allowed to go to your check-up, but if you're like me your dentist canceled your appointment because he gave all his masks and gloves and what-have-yous to the COVID-19 cause. Elective surgeries and dental services have been halted.
  • Patronize local business by buying take-out. No, no, you're not being lazy by not cooking, this time ordering delivery is an act of heroism, an altruistic bid to save small business.
  • You can go to the bank. Maybe to cash that sweet, sweet ~$1,200 check from the government (if it ever comes). And then you'll never have to go back because the economy is in shambles and how long will that ~$1,200 check last you anyway?
  • Hang out in the park (but not a state park). Remain six feet away from any person you are not living with. The parking lots for some of those parks will be closing, though.

  • Enjoy a tree!

  • On that last note, this means you can run, bike, hula hoop, catch some rays, and breathe air that is not inside your apartment.
  • Gardening is allowed. You are allowed to thrust your hands deep into the earth and crumble fresh soil between your fingers. Planting a seed or two and letting something grow sounds pretty good right now. Relish it but wash your hands after.
  • Places that are open:

    Everything I listed above (grocery stores, restaurants, banks, etc.). Additionally, gas stations are open, as are food banks, laundromats, and pharmacies.

    Anything deemed "essential" will stay open. What is and isn't essential? Find out. (Plumbers, autoworkers, weed stores, liquor stores, and more are essential).

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    Places that are for-sure, definitely closed:
    Nail salons, hair salons and barber shops, spas, yoga studios, and fitness centers, movie theaters, and anywhere where you are in direct contact with another human being or group of human beings. For some of these, you can find at-home solutions like, for instance cutting your own hair or working out to exercise videos.

    Closed but deliverable:
    If you have a local store that you'd like to patronize, check to see if they're offering delivery options. I know book stores like Third Place Books are delivering books and some bars (and fancy places) are doing take-out booze and food.

    The big takeaway from this Stay Home, Stay Healthy story is that this is hard. Nobody wants to stay inside and be alone, especially when it's a glorious spring day. But, this virus is spreading and spreading fast and the only thing that can fight that spread is if we stay away from each other. You may be feeling glum—I know I'm feeling glum—but make video-chatting dates with your friends, go for walks, join a Quarantine Club, read some poetry, watch some of these hopeful messages to Seattle, and you'll get through it. We'll get through it together.