Governor Brian Kemp Issues Executive Order Requiring Georgians to Shelter in Place
Lindsey & Lacy, PC is following closely business and legal developments related to COVID-19. As a service to our clients, we plan to release brief general summaries of relevant developments as they become available.
On April 2, 2020, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Order 04.02.20.01 (the “Order”) requiring Georgia residents and visitors to shelter in place to stop the spread of COVID-19. The Order took effect at 6:00 pm on Friday, April 3, 2020. Unless extended by Governor Kemp, the Order is set to expire at 11:59 pm on Monday, April 13, 2020.
The Order primarily creates three new rules. First, the Order requires those present in Georgia to practice social distancing and sanitation in accordance with the Order and guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Second, the Order prohibits certain gatherings of more than 10 persons at a single location if the gathering requires people to stand or be seated within 6 feet of each other. Private residences are not considered “single locations” under the Order, and the private gathering provisions do not apply to cohabitating persons outside of their homes, family units or roommates residing in private homes, or businesses defined as “Critical Infrastructure” (defined below) by the Order.
Third, the Order instructs all Georgia residents and visitors to shelter in place within their homes or places of residence and to take “every possible precaution to limit social interaction to prevent the spread of COVID-19.” This includes keeping visitors out of their homes or places of residence, except where the visitor is providing medical care or supplies, supporting certain “instrumental activities of daily living,” or visiting during end-of-life circumstances. The provisions of the Order are to be “strictly enforced” against nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
In addition to a general “emergency” exception, there are four exceptions to the shelter-in-place rule that allow a person to leave their home or place of residence: (1) conducting or participating in “Essential Services” (defined below); (2) performing “Necessary Travel” (defined below); (3) engaging in the performance of, or travel to and from, the performance of “Minimum Basic Operations” (defined below) for a business, or (4) participating in the workforce for “Critical Infrastructure” (defined below) and engaging in the performance of, or travel to and from, such work.
For purposes of the Order, Essential Services include obtaining necessary supplies and services like food, home maintenance and medical supplies, and materials needed to work from home; seeking medical or emergency services; and engaging in outdoor exercise activities so long as at least 6 feet is maintained between all participants who do not live together.
Necessary Travel includes travel that is required to participate in Essential Services, Minimum Basic Operations, or Critical Infrastructure.
Minimum Basic Operations means “the minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of a business,” such as managing inventory, ensuring security, and processing payroll. Even if a business is not involved in Critical Infrastructure, Minimum Basic Operations may include remaining open to the public if the business is able to comply with the other restrictions set forth in the Order.
Finally, Critical Infrastructure refers to businesses and organizations that are defined by the United States Department of Homeland Security as “essential critical infrastructure workforce” in a guidance amended on March 28, 2020. That guidance provides that certain businesses and organizations in the following business sectors are essential: communications; chemicals; commercial facilities; critical manufacturing; dams; defense; emergency management; energy; financial; food and agriculture; government; intellectual property; healthcare; nuclear; transportation; and water. Governor Kemp’s Order adds the following businesses and organizations to the DHS list: those providing legal services; home hospice; and non-profits that offer food distribution or other health or mental health services.
For businesses that are Critical Infrastructure, the Order identifies 16 measures that must be implemented to mitigate the exposure and spread of COVID-19, including, among others, screening workers for signs of illness; enhancing sanitation; requiring regular hand washing; prohibiting large gatherings of employees; implementing teleworking where possible; using staggered shifts; and prohibiting handshaking. For businesses that are not Critical Infrastructure but desire to conduct Minimum Basic Operations, the Order requires 4 additional measures (for a total of 20), including enforcing social distancing; providing for outside points of sale or curbside pick-up (for retailers and services providers); increasing physical space between workers and customers; and increasing physical space between workers to at least 6 feet. Please see the Order for a complete list of required measures.
In addition to the foregoing, the Order requires all restaurants and private social clubs to stop providing dine-in services. It also requires all gyms; fitness centers; bowling alleys; theaters; live performance venues; operators of amusement rides; body art studios; estheticians; hair designers; massage therapists; and bars to cease in-person operations. It specifically states that the Order is not intended to suspend or limit the sale or transportation of firearms or ammunition.
The Order authorizes certain law enforcement and emergency management personnel to mandate the closure of any business not complying with the Order, but only after providing reasonable notice. Any individual person who violates the order could be found guilty of a misdemeanor, but the Order encourages officials enforcing the order to take reasonable steps to provide notice prior to issuing a citation or making an arrest.
For a helpful Q&A from Governor Kemp’s office, please click here.
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The contents of this summary are intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions. The contents of this summary should not be construed as, and should not be relied upon for, legal or tax advice in any particular circumstance or fact situation. The information presented in this summary may not reflect the most current legal developments. No action should be taken in reliance on the information contained on this summary and we disclaim all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this summary to the fullest extent permitted by law. Because every situation is different, an attorney should be contacted for advice on specific legal issues.