Georgia’s 10.6 million residents will soon be under a new statewide shelter-in-place order to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Here’s what you should know:
Q: When does it start and how long does it last?
A: The order takes effect at 6 p.m. Friday and continues through April 13. The governor could extend it beyond that date if he renews a state public health emergency declaration that’s set to expire in mid-April.
Q: Can I still leave the house?
A: Yes. It allows Georgians to leave the home to buy groceries, purchase medical equipment, go outside to exercise, respond to emergencies, head to doctor’s appointments, or travel for work at businesses or nonprofits that comply with other restrictions.
There are other exceptions in the rules, which you can find here.
Q: What is closed?
A: The order mandates the closure of gyms, fitness centers, bowling allies, theaters, live performance venues, amusement parks, hair designers, beauty shops, cosmetology schools, barbershops and massage therapists. Earlier, the governor shut down bars and nightclubs.
Q: What about restaurants?
A: Dine-in service at restaurants and social clubs is no longer permitted, except for eateries at hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Takeout, curbside pickup and delivery are still allowed.
Q: What stays open?
A: The policy allows two different types of businesses and nonprofits to stay open: “minimum basic operations” and “critical infrastructure.” It sets out a list of criteria that both types of businesses must meet to remain open, though the latter category has fewer requirements.
Q: What’s the difference between the two?
A: The “critical” firms include utilities, key manufacturers, suppliers of essential goods, legal firms, health providers, and nonprofits that specialize in food delivery and health services. All others that want to stay open must conduct “minimum necessary activities.”
>>More: Read the order here.
Q: What are some of the requirements to stay open?
A: Employers must screen workers for symptoms of coronavirus, such as a fever over 100.4 degrees, a cough or shortness of breath. They must hold virtual meetings and implement teleworking and staggered shifts when possible. They must ban group gatherings and enforce social distancing.
The companies that aren’t considered “critical” must also meet a few additional guidelines, including increasing space between employees and customers, providing more disinfectant and sanitation services and setting up alternate points of sale outside.
Q: Can I still go outside to exercise?
A: Yes. There are no limits on exercise, so long as social distancing is employed. You can still visit state parks and play sports outside, including golf, though gatherings of more than 10 people are banned unless there’s at least six feet between each person.
Q: Do my local government’s restrictions still apply?
A: The new statewide rules override the patchwork of restrictions that local governments adopted over the past few weeks. That means more stringent or lenient rules adopted by some cities and counties are no longer in place.
Q: Can I still go to church or my house of worship?
A: The order permits residents to visit places of worship, so long as social-distancing guidelines and other restrictions are followed, though Kemp has publicly wrestled over whether to impose stiffer limits on congregations.
Q: What happens if people or businesses don’t comply?
A: At a press conference Wednesday, Kemp said the Georgia State Patrol and other agencies will take “appropriate action to ensure full compliance — no exceptions.” He did not disclose potential penalties, but he said, “we will do what is necessary if people fail to comply.”
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