Georgia’s Governor Issues Two Executive Orders

On March 23, 2020, Georgia Governor Brian P. Kemp issued an executive order limiting large gatherings, instructing that a “shelter in place” order be issued for specific populations, and closing bars and nightclubs through April 6, 2020.

The governor’s order directs the Department of Public Health to issue an order requiring the following populations to isolate, quarantine, or shelter in place:

  • People who live in a nursing home or a long-term care facility;

  • People who have chronic lung disease;

  • People who are currently undergoing cancer treatment; and

  • People included in Department of Public Health Administrative Order

The order also directs the Department of Public Health to create rules and regulations to allow these individuals to seek “essential services, make necessary travel, and receive specific visitors in end-of-life circumstances.”

The order also closes all bars as defined in OCGA 3-1-2 (2.1). “Bar” means any premises at which a retailer licensed to sell alcoholic beverages derives 75 percent or more of its total annual gross revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises.

Further, the order requires that “no business, establishment, corporation, non-profit corporation, or organization shall allow more than ten (10) persons to be gathered at a single location if such gathering requires persons to stand or to be seated within six (6) feet of any other person.” The Department of Public Health is also authorized to temporarily close any business that does not comply with this order.

Finally, the order encourages the Department of Public Health to start a public information campaign to encourage organizations and businesses to protect the public by adhering to CDC Guidelines, including encouraging additional sanitation efforts, encouraging curbside pick-up or home delivery of purchased items, limiting personal interaction during transactions, and limiting the number of people within their place of business.

The Governor also issued a second executive order that expands the temporary licensing of certain medical professionals in order to assist in the COVID-19 response.

Atlanta’s Mayor Issues an Executive Order to “Stay at Home”

On the same day, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued an executive order directing Atlanta residents to stay at home. The order went into effect on March 24, 2020.

The order provides that

  • All individuals covered by the order are directed to stay at home. People may leave their residences only for essential activities, essential governmental functions, or to operate essential businesses (all of which are defined in the order). People may also leave their residences to work for or obtain services at any healthcare operations and to provide any services or perform any work necessary to the operations and maintenance of essential infrastructure, including public works, construction, airport operations, utility, water, sewer, gas, electrical, etc.

  • All nonessential businesses must cease all activities at facilities located within Atlanta, except these businesses may continue “minimum basic operations.” Minimum basic operations include the following, provided that employees comply with social distancing requirements, to the greatest extent possible, while carrying out such operations: (1) the minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions; and (2) the minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences.

  • Businesses may continue operations consisting exclusively of employees or contractors performing activities at their own residences (i.e., working from home).

Essential businesses are strongly encouraged to remain open, and, to the greatest extent possible, comply with the social distancing requirements set forth in the order, which include maintaining a distance of six feet from other employees and members of the public. The order defines “essential businesses” as follows:

  • Healthcare operations and essential Infrastructure;

  • Grocery stores, farmers’ markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores, and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supply, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, and any other household consumer products (such as cleaning and personal care products). This category includes stores that sell groceries and also sell non-grocery products, and products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences;

  • Food cultivation, including farming, livestock, and fishing;

  • Businesses that provide food, shelter, social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals;

  • Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services;

  • Gas stations and auto-supply, auto-repair, and related facilities;

  • Banks and related financial institutions;

  • Hardware stores;

  • Lodging businesses (e.g., hotels, motels, conference centers);

  • Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, essential activities, and essential businesses;

  • Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes;

  • Educational institutions—including public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities—for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions, provided that social distancing of six-feet per person is maintained to the greatest extent possible;

  • Laundromats, dry cleaners, and laundry service providers;

  • Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or carry out. Schools and other entities that typically provide food services to students or members of the public may continue to do so under this order on the condition that the food is provided to students or members of the public on a pick-up and takeaway basis only. Schools and other entities that provide food services under this exemption shall not permit the food to be eaten at the site where it is provided, or at any other gathering site. Cafeterias in hospitals, nursing homes, or similar facilities shall not be subject to the restrictions contained in this order.

  • Businesses that supply products needed for people to work from home;

  • Businesses that supply other essential businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate;

  • Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to residences;

  • Home-based care for seniors, adults, or children;

  • Residential facilities and shelters for seniors, adults, and children;

  • Professional services, such as legal or accounting services;

  • Childcare facilities; and

  • Utility, water, sewer, gas, electrical, oil refining, roads and highways, railroads, public transportation, taxi/rideshare, solid waste collection and removal, internet, and telecommunications systems (including the provision of essential global, national, and local infrastructure for computing services, business infrastructure, communications, and web-based services).

Under this order, residents may leave their residence to perform “essential activities,” defined as:

  • Engaging in activities or performing tasks essential to their health and safety, or to the health and safety of their family or household members (including, but not limited to, pets), such as obtaining medical supplies or medication, visiting a health care professional, or obtaining supplies necessary to work from home.

  • Obtaining necessary services or supplies for themselves and their family or household members, or to deliver those services or supplies to others, including household consumer products and products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences.

  • Engaging in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking, or running, provided the residents comply with social distancing requirements.

  • Performing work to provide essential products and services at an essential business or to otherwise carry out activities permitted in the order, including minimum basic operations.

  • Caring for a family member or pet in another household.

If you have any questions about this summary, please contact the Constangy attorney of your choice.

Please be aware that substantial changes in the governmental guidance and in the underlying laws are occurring on almost a daily basis, which will impact the analysis of the legal issues related to COVID-19. It is critical that you check the Resource Center often for the most recent information and stay in continual contact with your Constangy attorney.

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