Georgia Shelter-in-Place Rules Explained as Coronavirus Cases Pass 4,000

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp will sign a 'stay-at-home' order today that will go into force tomorrow and last through April 13. Georgia currently has more than 4,700 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and joins more than 30 other states that have implemented stay-at-home orders.

At his briefing, Kemp said: "I want to encourage my fellow Georgians to hang in there. I know you are tired of this. I know you want to return to business as usual, but we must first overcome the obstacles we have in our path."

Kemp also tweeted: "In keeping with our promise to let data and experts guide our decisions, I announced another strategic step forward. Tomorrow, I will sign a statewide shelter in place order. We will issue guidance soon so Georgians can prepare for the next phase in the fight against COVID-19."

Before the statewide order, Georgia's social distancing guidelines varied by county and city. For example, the mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, issued an executive order on March 24, which asked the residents of the city to "stay at their place of residence" for 14 days.

Atlanta Georgia
A view of the Fox Theatre on Peachtree Street as the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States on March 26, 2020, in Atlanta, Georgia. Paras Griffin/Getty

What does the shelter-in-place order mean?

Georgia residents will be asked to stay at home, except when they access essential services or to perform essential activities. Governor Kemp has said all K-12 public schools in Georgia will be closed for the rest of the academic year.

A statement on the Georgia government website says: "The rate of COVID-19 infection is accelerating rapidly across our state, and Georgians are asked to take unprecedented steps to help slow the spread and protect each other.

"If you are not involved in the medical response or providing an essential service, the best way to support those who are is to stay home."

Essential services include grocery stores, pharmacies, post offices, banks, restaurants serving carry-out food, gas stations, laundry services, and essential government functions. When accessing these services, Georgia residents will be encouraged to maintain social distancing by staying two meters away from other people.

Some cities and counties in Georgia have already closed dine-in restaurants and bars, but this will now be implemented statewide. Other non-essential businesses that will be closed throughout the order include movie theatres, bars, nightclubs, entertainment venues, and gyms.

Governor Kemp said that law enforcement would be used to ensure compliance with the new guidelines. Officials will be able to break up groups of more than 10 people who are not practicing social distancing and can people who fail to comply with the guidelines could be issued with a misdemeanor offense.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

• Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
• Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
• Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
• Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

• Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
• Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
• If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
• Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
• Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

• Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
• Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
• Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
• Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
• Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
• Do not reuse single-use masks.
• Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
• The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.

Georgia Shelter-in-Place Rules Explained as Coronavirus Cases Pass 4,000 | U.S.