You can pick up groceries, food, medicines or go to the doctor, and you can exercise outdoors, but you can’t go to the gym, hair salon or a bar.
Those are some of the details in Governor Brian Kemp’s shelter-in-place order that took effect Friday, April 3, and will remain in place through Monday, April 13.
Those who violate the order could face a misdemeanor charge or arrest.
According to the order, “officials enforcing this order should take reasonable steps to provide notice prior to issuing a citation or making an arrest.”
The order 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. No business, organization or government is to allow more than 10 people to gather in a single location if the six foot rule can’t be complied with.
Restaurants have closed in-person dining areas, but food pick-ups and deliveries are allowed. People can also travel to grocery stores, medical appointments and pharmacies.
“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.
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 preventive measures at businesses that remain open, including regular health screenings, hand washing, staggered shifts and teleworking when possible.
Gov. Kemp issued the shelter-in-place order following changes to federal modeling and guidelines earlier this week claiming the respiratory virus can spread from infected persons who do not show symptoms.
Kemp deputized county sheriff’s and their deputies to enforce the shelter-in-place order Friday. Georgia State Patrol officers and any state agency members deputized by the governor or the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency can also enforce the order.
Those officials, along with 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.
The shelter-in-place came after mounting pressure from health experts and politicians from both parties who have called for a statewide approach. Until Friday, Kemp had largely deferred to city and county authorities to decide whether to issue stay-at-home orders for their areas.
Both the City of Blackshear and Pierce County had issued emergency declarations last week imposing many of the same guidelines (see related story).
Those declarations have been superseded by the state declaration.
In the days following Kemp’s shelter-in-place order, several frequently asked questions have surfaced:
How long does the shelter-in-place order last?
The shelter-in-place order expires at 11:59 p.m. April 13
What businesses and professionals must cease in-person operations and close to the public during this time?
• Fitness centers
• Bowling alleys
• Live performance venues
• Dine-in services at restaurants and private social clubs (Exceptions include take-out, curbside pickup and delivery, as well as dine-in services at hospitals, health-care facilities, nursing homes or other long-term care facilities)
• Estheticians (ex. waxing, threading, eyelash extensions, cosmetic treatments)
• Hair designers
• Tattoo parlors
• Beauty shops and salons (including home shops)
• Barbershops (including home shops)
• Cosmetology schools
• Hair design schools
• Barbering schools
• Esthetics schools
• Nail care schools
• Licensed massage therapists
How does the order apply to individuals and families?
“Shelter in place” means all Georgia residents and visitors must stay in their residences and take every possible precaution to limit social interaction to prevent the spread or infection of COVID-19.
Are there exceptions?
Yes. A Georgia resident or visitor is not required to shelter in place if they are:
1. Engaging in essential services.
2. Working in critical infrastructure.
3. Engaging in minimum basic operations.
4. Performing necessary travel.
Engaging in essential services means obtaining necessary supplies and services for your household, engaging in activities essential for the health and safety of your household, and engaging in outdoor exercise activities as long as you have at least six feet between people who do not live in your household.
You can go to the grocery store, medical appointments and the pharmacy. You can go pick up food or have food delivered to your house. You can leave your house to buy supplies to clean or maintain your house. You can go outside to exercise. You can also leave your house in an emergency.
The key takeaway is stay in your house as much as possible. Keep circumstances where you must leave rare by consolidating trips, using take-out, curbside pickup and delivery service whenever possible.
Necessary travel means the travel required for someone to participate in essential services, minimum basic operations or work for critical infrastructure.
Minimum basic operations are limited to:
1. Activities necessary to maintain the value of a business … provide services, manage inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, etc. Such minimum necessary activities include remaining open to the public subject to the restrictions of this order.
2. The minimum activities necessary to facilitate employees or volunteers being able to work remotely from their residences.
3. Instances where employees are working outdoors without regular contact with other persons, such as delivery services, contractors, landscape businesses and agricultural industry services.
What are essential services and critical infrastructure workers?
As defined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, critical infrastructure workers include those who staff operations centers, maintain and repair critical infrastructure, operate call centers, and work in construction.
It also includes workers who support critical supply chains and enable functions for critical infrastructure. The industries they support represent, but are not limited to, medical and health care, telecommunications, information technology systems, defense, food and agriculture, transportation and logistics, energy, water and wastewater, law enforcement and public works.
What does this order mean for church services and funeral services?
No business, establishment, for-profit or nonprofit corporation, organization or county or municipal government is allowed to have more than 10 people gathering in a single location unless there is at least six feet between each person at all times. This rule applies to church services and funeral services.
Can I go to state parks or play sports outside like golf?
Yes. You can visit state parks or play sports outside, including golf, subject to restrictions. Gatherings of more than 10 people are banned unless there is at least six feet between each person at all times. If people congregate in certain areas of a state park or golf course, for example, law enforcement will warn them to disband. If they fail to comply, they may face criminal charges.
What happens if I violate the governor’s executive order?
If you violate any terms of the order, you are committing a misdemeanor, which is a crime in the state of Georgia. For example, if you are not sheltering in place and none of the four exceptions for essential services, minimum basic operations, critical infrastructure or necessary travel applies to your activities, you will receive a warning from law enforcement and risk facing criminal charges if you fail to comply.
How does this order apply to local governments?
No county or city is allowed to have more than 10 people gathered in a single location unless there is at least six feet between each person at all times. The governor’s order supersedes all local ordinances to the extent they conflict and states no ordinance can be more or less restrictive.
Beau Evans and Dave Williams of the Capitol Beat News Service contributed to this report.