Georgia Governor Issues Shelter in Place Order

April 6, 2020

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With the virus quickly spreading across the state, Gov. Kemp issued his Executive Order to Ensure a Safe & Healthy Georgia on Thursday, April 2. Until now, local jurisdictions had a piecemeal approach of restrictions, all of which are superseded by this new order.

The order, which is valid from Friday, April 3 until Monday, April 13, includes a statewide shelter in place requirement that many residents have been requesting. The order is clear that residents should have no visitors in their home, with limited exceptions such as medical care and necessary assistance for daily activities.

Under the order, all residents and visitors must still practice social distancing and prevention practices recommended by the CDC. Any necessary gatherings outside of the home must be fewer than ten people spaced six feet apart. Exceptions to shelter in place restrictions under the order include:

  1. Conducting or participating in “Essential Services”
  2. Performing “Necessary Travel”
  3. Travel to maintain the “Minimum Basic Operations” of businesses not classified as “Critical Infrastructure” and
  4. Travel to perform duties as a member of the “Critical Infrastructure” workforce.

“Essential Services” include getting basic home necessities, such as groceries. Policy makers are encouraging delivery and online ordering where available. Taking care of any health and medical necessities also are considered essential. Lastly, participating in outdoor activities as long as you maintain a six-foot distance from anyone you don’t reside with is allowed.

“Necessary Travel” is limited to whatever is required for: “Essential Services,” “Minimum Basic Operations,” or “Critical Infrastructure.”

“Minimum Basic Operations” as detailed by the order essentially includes the minimum amount of activity necessary to  maintain your business such as payroll, security, manage inventory, and any activities required to remain in business while complying with the order. “Non-Critical Infrastructure” businesses that do remain open must implement a list of twenty measures to mitigate the exposure and spread of COVID-19.

In addition to businesses defined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as “essential critical infrastructure workforce” and those essential to supporting those businesses, the order also includes legal services, home hospice, food distribution, and mental health services on its list of “Critical Infrastructure”. These businesses also are encouraged to implement a list of mitigation measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Governor has called on various agencies to ensure compliance with the order, while also advocating for businesses. The Georgia Department of Economic Development will oversee the businesses and “Critical Infrastructure.” The Department of Public Health, Department of Public Safety, or any other organization the governor or Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency deputize to do so can authorize closures of business not adhering to the restrictions while the order remains in place. The Adjutant General of the Georgia National Guard and the Commissioner of Public Safety are directed to provide resources as requested to assist in the enforcement of the order. However, the governor has been very clear that he wants agencies to take steps to provide notice to individuals violating the order before issuing any citations, making arrests, or closing businesses.

The order will expire on April 13, which coincides with the expiration date of the governor’s initial emergency declaration on March 14. It is likely that the order will be extended beyond its current expiration date. If the governor issues a subsequent emergency declaration, it must be approved by the General Assembly. At this time, it seems unlikely that the legislature would not grant approval for an additional 30-day emergency declaration.

For a complete look at federal and state action related to the coronavirus, visit MWC’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Facts and Resources website.