ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp has signed the state's shelter-in-place order.
The move comes as the statewide - and nationwide - fight to gain control on the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus intensifies.
When Kemp initially declared a Public Health Emergency in Georgia - the state's first-ever - last month, Kemp seemed reluctant to issue the order for all Georgians to stay at home. While he did order for populations vulnerable to the virus to shelter-in-place, it did not apply to all Georgians. Yet, even Georgia's own residents called for the governor to enact a blanket order.
Now, with Georgia's own stay at home order that will be in place, health officials hope that the spread of the virus will slow, and spare a healthcare system that's already been stretched thin.
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Here is what you need to know about the order:
When does Georgia's stay-at-home order take effect?
The order takes effect Friday, April 3 at 6 p.m. and will be in place until 11:59 p.m. on April 13.
What does it do?
The order overrides all other previous shelter-in-place orders issued by local municipalities.
Under the order, residents and visitors are required to shelter in place inside their homes and take "every possible precaution to limit social interaction" and prevent the spread of COVID-19, unless they are:
1. Conducting or participating in essential services;
2. Performing necessary travel;
3. Are engaged in the performance of, or travel to and from, the performance of Minimum Basic Operations for a business, establishment, corporation, non-profit corporation or organization not classified as Critical Infrastructure; or
4. Are part of the workforce for Critical Infrastructure and are actively engaged in the performance of, or travel to and from, their respective employment.
During the order, residents are also not allowed to have visitors unless they are providing medical or emergency services, providing support to conduct "activities of daily living," providing necessary supplies and services - like food, equipment needed to work from home, products to maintain safety, sanitation and essential maintenance. Visitors are allowed during end-of-life circumstances.
What is allowed under Georgia's shelter-in-place order?
"Essential services" are permitted under the order, but are limited to obtaining necessary supplies and services for a household - like food, medicine, sanitation. The order asks that preference should be given to online ordering, home delivery and curbside-pickup whenever possible.
Outdoor exercising is still allowed, but a minimum of 6-foot distances is still required.
How does it affect businesses?
All businesses, establishments, corporations, non-profits or other organizations that are not deemed critical infrastructure are only allowed to engage in minimum basic operations.
In addition to social distancing, the order mandates that businesses are not allowed to have more than 10 people gathered at a single location. Businesses that are in operation are also being ordered to take measures to decrease the exposure and spread of the coronavirus by screening and evaluating workers who show signs of illness, enhancing the "sanitation of the workforce," and suspending the use of PIN devices.
In addition, all restaurants and clubs are no longer allowed to provide dine-in services. Only takeout, curbside pick-up, and delivery are allowed.
What will be closed under the shelter-in-place order?
Businesses that will be forced to completely cease in-person operations and close to the pubic during the order include:
- Body art studios
- Hair designers
- Massage therapists
- Fitness centers
- Bowling alleys
- Live performance venues,
- Operators of amusement rides
What is critical infrastructure?
The order appears to set blanket requirements for many businesses that aren't deemed critical and another for businesses that will have to close altogether.
A subset of Homeland Security, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has a detailed list of what is deemed "critical infrastructure," which includes the following categories:
- Commercial facilities
- Critical manufacturing
- Defense industrial base
- Emergency services
- Financial services
- Food and agriculture
- Government facilities
- Healthcare and public health
- Information technology
- Nuclear reactors, materials and waste
- Transportation systems
- Water and wastewater systems
Who will enforce Georgia's stay-at-home order?
In this order, Governor Kemp authorized the Department of Public Health, the Department of Public Safety and basically any other state officer the governor or Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security deputizes to enforce the business restrictions.
Those officers are expected to give the “business, establishment, corporation, non-profit corporation, or organization not in compliance” notice before mandating the closure, according to the order.
The Georgia National Guard and the Department of Public Safety are also requested to “assist” in enforcing the order.
What is the punishment for violating Georgia's stay-at-home order?
Anyone who violates the order would be found guilty of a misdemeanor.
While violators could face misdemeanor charges, the order also says that officials who are enforcing the order should "take reasonable steps to provide notice prior to issuing a citation or making an arrest."
11Alive is focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. We want to keep you informed about the latest developments while ensuring that we deliver confirmed, factual information.
We will track the most important coronavirus elements relating to Georgia on this page. Refresh often for new information.