Starting at 6 p.m. Friday and until 11:59 p.m. April 13, all residents of Georgia are ordered to shelter in place, or stay at home, unless they leave to conduct essential business, maintain minimal business operations or to obtain necessary supplies.
The order, which can be viewed here, issued late Thursday afternoon as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Georgia orders the following businesses to cease operations:
- fitness centers,
- bowling allies,
- live performance venues,
- amusement parks,
- dine-in services,
- hair designers,
- body art studios,
- beauty shops, barber shops and salons
- cosmetology schools
- hair design schools
- barbering schools
- esthetics schools
- nail care schools
- licensed massage therapists
Restaurants that offer delivery, takeout or curbside pickup must close their dining rooms and maintain social distancing practices.
“All other entities may continue to operate subject to specific restrictions. Those restrictions vary depending on whether your entity is critical infrastructure,” a frequently asked questions sheet provided with the order states. The sheet can be viewed here.
Critical infrastructure, or essential businesses and organizations, are required to follow social distancing guidance from state and federal authorities.
Critical infrastructure businesses as considered by the federal Department of Homeland Security include those involved in the following areas:
- Health care and public health,
- Law enforcement and public safety,
- Food an agriculture
- Water and wastewater
- Transportation and logistics
- Public works and infrastructure support services
- Communications and information technology
- Other community or government-based operations and essential functions
- Critical manufacturing
- Hazardous materials
- Financial services
- Defense industrial bases
- Commercial facilities
- Residential-shelter facilities and services
- Hygiene products and services
The guidance released with order lists numerous specifics about what businesses and organizations within those categories qualify.
At this time the governor has not deputized local law enforcement to enforce he order. Stat law enforcement with POST certification will be charged with enforcement.
Amid the push to curb coronavirus, a statewide shelter-in-place order that will shutter in-person patronizing of bars, gyms, restaurants, theaters and many other activities is set to begin at 6 p.m. Friday and last through April 13.
More on the order is here from the Capitol Beat News Service.
By Beau Evans
Capitol Beat News Service
Gov. Brian Kemp issued an executive order Thursday evening that exempts a range of activities deemed “essential services” like food and medical supply pick-ups and deliveries, critical infrastructure and those that help maintain minimum business operations.
Many types of businesses deemed essential will remain open but under tightened rules to keep work areas clean and for people to keep six feet of distance at minimum between each other, as well as a maximum of 10 people per any given space.
Restaurants will have to close in-person dining areas, but food pick-ups and deliveries will be allowed. People in Georgia will also be able to travel to grocery stores, medical appointments and pharmacies, according to the governor’s office.
“Preference should be given to online ordering, home delivery and curbside pick-up services wherever possible as opposed to in-store shopping,” the order says.
Exercising is allowed outside so long as people keep their distance from each other, the order says.
Critical infrastructure, per federal guidelines, includes health-care sectors, law enforcement and first-responder agencies, food and agriculture industries, energy companies, water and sewer utilities, trucking, public transit, information technology and more.
The order also requires rules at businesses that remain open, including health screenings, hand washing, staggered shifts and teleworking where possible.
Gov. Brian Kemp announced Wednesday he would sign the order following changes to federal modeling and guidelines earlier this week that account for the fact that the respiratory virus can spread from infected persons who do not show symptoms.
As of noon Thursday, more than 5,400 Georgians had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel strain of coronavirus that has sparked a global pandemic. It had killed 176 patients from Georgia. Hart County still has three confirmed cases.
Kemp also signed an executive order Wednesday to close in-person classes for all Georgia public schools for the rest of the current school year. Thousands of schools across the state are poised to lean on online instruction to finish the spring term.
Per the order, enforcing the shelter-in-place will be left to Georgia State Patrol officers and any state agency members deputized by the governor or the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency.
Those officials, along with state Department of Public Health officers, will have authority to close any business or organization not complying with the order. Individual violators will be charged with a misdemeanor.
At a news conference Wednesday, Kemp called revised guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on asymptomatic spreading of coronavirus as “a game changer.”
“We are taking action to protect our hospitals, to help our medical providers and prepare for the patient surge that we know is coming,” Kemp said Wednesday. “Now is the time to fight and continue to be strong and courageous.”
The governor’s shelter-in-place order follows mounting pressure from health experts and politicians from both parties who have called for a statewide approach. Up to this point, Kemp has largely deferred to city and county authorities to decide whether to issue stay-at-home orders for their areas.
Kemp drew criticism Thursday from local officials and political opponents who blasted his reliance on this week’s new federal guidelines, arguing the governor and state health officials should have known much sooner about the ability of the virus to spread without symptoms.
Officials with the governor’s office stressed Kemp’s decision was also based heavily on the worsening strain hospitals are facing with shortages in protective gear and life-saving equipment, as well as new projections for patient capacity at Georgia hospitals to peak later this month.
In a news release Thursday, the state Department of Public Health pointed to information from CDC Robert Redfield that as many as 25% of people infected with coronavirus do not show symptoms and can be infectious up to 48 hours before symptoms appear. Redfield provided that information on Monday, the state public health agency noted.
The best way to halt the spreading virus and ease the burden for hospitals is for everyone to keep their distance from each other and practice good sanitary habits, said Dr. Kathleen Toomey, the state public health commissioner.
“Until now, containing the spread of COVID-19 has been based on early detection and isolation of people with symptoms of the virus,” Toomey said in a statement Thursday. “Social distancing and keeping people apart from each other are now more than just recommendations; they are the best weapons we have to stop the spread of COVID-19.”