Shelter in Place Rules
Georgia’s 10.6 million residents are under a new statewide shelter-in-place order to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus. This order was effective Friday, April 3, at 6 p.m. and continues through April 13. The governor could extend it beyond that date if he renews a state public health emergency declaration that’s set to expire in mid-April.
The goverrnor signed another executive order authorizing each county sheriff's office in the state to enforce the Shelter in Place order effective Friday, April 3, at 6 p.m. Sheriffs are constitutional offices and are uniquely-positioned to enforce the state's response to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
His order authorizes the sheriffs and their deputies to enforce the closure of businesses, establishments, corporations, non-profit corporations or other organizations. The sheriffs and their deputies are required to take reasonable steps to provide notice and allow a reasonable time to comply before mandating closure.
The new statewide rules override the patchwork of restrictions that local governments adopted over the past few weeks. That means more stringent or lenient rules adopted by some cities and counties are no longer in place. Here’s what you should know:
- It allows Georgians to leave the home to buy groceries, purchase medical equipment, go outside to exercise, respond to emergencies, head to doctor’s appointments, or travel for work at businesses or nonprofits that comply with other restrictions.
- You also do not need a letter to prove you need to keep working. There are other exceptions in the rules, which you can find here.
- The order mandates the closure of gyms, fitness centers, bowling allies, theaters, live performance venues, amusement parks, hair designers, beauty shops, cosmetology schools, barbershops and massage therapists. Bars and nightclubs were closed by a previous order.
- Dine-in service at restaurants and social clubs is no longer permitted, except for eateries at hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Takeout, curbside pickup and delivery are still allowed.
- The policy allows two different types of businesses and nonprofits to stay open: “minimum basic operations” and “critical infrastructure.” It sets out a list of criteria that both types of businesses must meet to remain open, though the latter category has fewer requirements. The “critical” firms include utilities, key manufacturers, suppliers of essential goods, legal firms, health providers, and nonprofits that specialize in food delivery and health services. All others that want to stay open must conduct “minimum necessary activities.”
- Employers must screen workers for symptoms of coronavirus, such as a fever over 100.4 degrees, a cough or shortness of breath. They must hold virtual meetings and implement teleworking and staggered shifts when possible. They must ban group gatherings and enforce social distancing.
- The companies that aren’t considered “critical” must also meet a few additional guidelines, including increasing space between employees and customers, providing more disinfectant and sanitation services and setting up alternate points of sale outside.
- There are no limits on exercise, so long as social distancing is employed. You can still visit state parks and play sports outside, including golf, though gatherings of more than 10 people are banned unless there’s at least six feet between each person.
- The order permits residents to visit places of worship, so long as social-distancing guidelines and other restrictions are followed, though Kemp has publicly wrestled over whether to impose stiffer limits on congregations.
- The governor’s office says that babysitters and nannies are still permissible.
- The mandate specifies that the sale, distribution or transportation of firearms and ammunition is not affected.
What happens if people or businesses don’t comply?
Those who violate the terms of the order could face misdemeanor charges. The goveror's order authorizes the sheriffs and their deputies to enforce the closure of businesses, establishments, corporations, non-profit corporations or other organizations. The sheriffs and their deputies are required to take reasonable steps to provide notice and allow a reasonable time to comply before mandating closure.