Georgia’s Statewide Shelter In Place Order: Guidelines, Answers, and Enforcement


Looking at Georgia’s statewide shelter in place order

Some cities and municipalities were already under a shelter in place order to help combat the spread of COVID-19. How does Georgia’s statewide shelter in place order change things? We’re digging into the guidelines, answers, and enforcement.

Here’s what this article covers:

Gov. Brian Kemp implemented a statewide shelter in place executive order to help stop the spread of COVID-19. It went into effect on April 3, 2020 at 6 pm and runs through 11:59 pm April 13, 2020.

The order requires all Georgia residents to stay in their homes unless engaging in essential work or activities, like purchasing food or supplies. It also urges every Georgia resident to practice social distancing, and restricts gatherings of more than 10 people at a time.

Looking at the differences

For those already under a local shelter in place order, the change does change much. But it does add some restrictions and allows for enforcement.

The order, while sweeping, did allow for a “reasonable time” that businesses would be able to either adjust to the new rules or close for the period.

Businesses forced to close or remove in-person operations

  • Bars
  • Nightclubs
  • Gyms
  • Fitness centers
  • Bowling allies
  • Theaters
  • Live performance venues
  • Operators of amusement parks
  • Dine-in services at restaurants and social clubs *(see exceptions)
  • Estheticians
  • Hair designers
  • Body art studios (tattoo parlors)
  • Beauty shops and salons (including in-home)
  • Barber shops
  • Cosmetology schools
  • Hair design schools
  • Barbering schools
  • Esthetics schools
  • Nail care schools
  • Licensed massage therapists

*Exceptions for dine-in services: Take-out, curbside pickup, delivery, and dine-in services at hospitals, healthcare facilities, nursing homes, or other long-term care facilities

Two categories for defining businesses

The Governor’s order splits all other Georgia businesses not in the list above into two categories. Each one has individual requirements necessary to comply. The categories are critical infrastructure and non-critical infrastructure.

Critical infrastructure: defined

Critical infrastructure means a business, establishments, non-profit corporations, and organizations as defined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as “essential critical infrastructure workforce.” These are suppliers that provide essential goods and services, for the critical infrastructure workforce as well as entities that provide legal services, home hospice, and non-profit corporations or non-profit organizations that offer food distribution or other health or mental health services.

These businesses and organizations must meet 16 listed requirements to be able to continue in-person operations.

Non-critical infrastructure: defined

All other businesses that have not been closed due to the order, are considered non-critical infrastructure. They must follow the social distancing rule, only perform minimum basic operations, and meet the listed 20 requirements to stay open.

Individuals and families

The executive order for Georgia individuals and families to shelter in place heavily leans on one basic rule, as follows: All residents and visitors of Georgia are required to shelter in place in their residences for the duration of the time period with the exceptions noted below. “Shelter in place” means remaining in their residences and taking every possible precaution to limit social interaction to prevent the spread or infection of COVID-19.

Exceptions for individuals and families

Residents or visitors in Georgia are not required to shelter in place if they are:

  • Engaging in essencial services
  • Working in critical infrastructure
  • Engaging in minimum basic operations
  • Performing necessary travel

What does necessary travel mean?

Governor Kemp’s statewide order defines necessary travel as the travel required for someone to conduct or participate in essential services, minimum basic operations, or work for critical infrastructure.

What does essential services mean?

Here’s what the order says: Essential services means obtaining necessary supplies for your household, activities for the health and safety of your household, outdoor exercise so long as you have at least six feet between people who do not live in your household.

This means you can go to the grocery store, medical appointments, and the pharmacy. You can go pick up food or have food delivered to your home. You can leave to buy supplies to clean or maintain your home. You can go outside to exercise. It’s also okay to leave your house in an emergency.

Governor Kemp’s statewide order summarized the key takeaway for individuals and families as this: You need to stay in your home as much as possible, but there are circumstances when you may need to leave. Keep those circumstances rare, consolidate trips as much as possible, and use take-out, curbside pickup, and delivery services whenever possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Enforcement of the order

This is what the Georgia shelter in place order says about violations and enforcement: If you violate any of the terms of the order, you are committing a misdemeanor, which is a crime in the state of Georgia. Here’s an 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.

More questions and answers:

Q: Do I need a letter to prove that I can keep working?

No. You do not need a letter from your employer or the government to prove that you fall into one of the exceptions for essential services, necessary travel, critical infrastructure, or minimum basic operations.

Q: What does the order mean for church services and funeral services?

No business, establishment, for-profit or non-profit 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.

Q: Can I go to state parks or play sports outside like golf?

Yes. You can visit state parks and play sports outside, including golf, subject to certain 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.

Hey everyone, thanks for reading this. We appreciate it and hope this has been helpful to you. In addition, we hope you can use it to help do your part to fight the spread of COVID-19.

Have your own question or comment? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Copyright 229 Life 2023. All rights reserved.

Christian is the founder of 229 Life, a community hub for South Georgia. He likes exploring, eating new foods, and beach vacations. Say hello on Twitter at @tellmckinney.


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