The City of Albany issued a shelter-in-place order at 6pm Sunday, March 22 that goes until at least midnight on April 7, 2020. The order places additional restrictions on area businesses and people. But what does that mean for you and me? We’re digging into this for better understanding.
Here’s what this article covers:
Also official frequently asked questions:
First, the basics
This escalated order places additional restrictions on area businesses, as well as those who have either tested positive for COVID-19 and are recovering at home or those who are awaiting test results to adhere to the self-quarantine rule. Anyone recovering at Phoebe Putney Hospital will be given an official signed copy of the order when they are released.
Essential business examples please!
According to the order, shelter in place discourages all non-essential travel through the community and in and out of the community. It does not apply to those traveling to work in an essential business or essential government function, listed below.
- Health care operations
- Home health workers
- Housing construction
- Public transportation
- Grocery stores
- Farmers markets
- Food banks
- Convenience stores
- Shelter facilities
- Healthcare supply stores
- Healthcare facilities
- Gas stations
- Auto repair shops
These are the examples given by the City of Albany and is not an exhaustive list. If you work or operate in a similar function or business listed above, this order may not apply to you.
How can I make sure I’m complying?
Great question. Let’s take a look. People who live in Albany and Dougherty County need to stay home. If you’re using shared or outdoor spaces, keep at least 6 feet away from any other person when they are outside of their home (read: social distancing).
Anyone can leave their home, as long as it is for essential activities or to operate essential businesses, or to perform essential government functions, referenced above.
What about homeless people?
This is an important consideration for the City of Albany and Dougherty County. The order says people who are homeless are exempt from the provision of staying home, but are strongly asked to find a place to stay. Homeless people are not exempt from the social distancing rule, and must stay at least 6 feet away from others as well.
I have a business not on the list. What can I do?
The order says all businesses with a presence in Dougherty County, with the exception of essential businesses listed above, are required to cease all activities at facilities within the county except minimum basic operations.
What is considered minimum basic operations?
Minimum basic operations are the minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, ensure security, process payroll, and employee benefits, or other similar functions.
What about running a business or working from home?
The order thankfully addresses this. It says businesses may continue operations exclusively of employees or contractors performing activities at their own home.
My party/birthday/etc. is coming up. What can I do?
In the opinion of this author, postpone it. That’s the best way to help fight the disease and help others from getting sick. As for the order itself, public and private gatherings of more than 10 people outside a residence are prohibited. For clarity, nothing in the order prohibits the gathering of people who live in the same home.
Let’s talk about travel
According to the order, all travel with the exception of essential activities and essential travel is prohibited. If you are using public transit, it can only be for essential activities or to go to and from work or essential government functions. People riding on public transit must comply with social distancing requirements, to the greatest extent feasible. Finally, this order allows travel into or out of the county to perform essential activities, operate essential business, or maintain essential government functions.
What about outdoor exercise? Can I go for a walk?
It’s important to note The White House coronavirus guidelines for avoiding “discretionary travel, shopping trips, or social visits” does not include outdoor exercise. This Albany order also does not include outdoor exercise. In fact, the CDC coronavirus guidelines encourage outdoor activities at home, especially for children, while practicing social distancing.
What are the specifics for social distancing?
Social distancing means maintaining a minimum distance of six (6) feet from other individuals, washing hands with soap and water for at least twenty (20) seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer. It means covering coughs or sneezes (into the sleeve or elbow, not hands), regularly cleaning high-tough surfaces, and not shaking hands.
Shelter In Place Order: Questions and Answers
We’ve covered a lot here, and there still may be questions that you have concerning the shelter in place order from The City of Albany and Dougherty County. Below are some frequently asked questions and answers from the order for further clarity.
When does the order go into effect?
The order goes into effect at 6 p.m. Sunday, March 22, 2020.
How long does the order last?
The order is in effect through 11:59 p.m. on April 7 2020, unless it is extended, rescinded, superseded, or amended by the Mayor of Albany and the Chairman of the Dougherty County Commission.
Will grocery stores remain open?
Yes, grocery stores may remain open and are not to exceed 50 percent occupancy at any given time. Persons are to observe social distancing and are not to be within six feet of one another for extended periods of time.
Will retailers and shopping centers have to close?
The order defines “essential businesses” and also essential business operations. Businesses are expected to follow the order, which can be found at dougherty.ga.us under the News & Events/Public Notices section. Persons are not to be within six feet of one another at all times.
Can my “non-essential” retail businesses continue to offer curb-side/pickup/delivery of goods, even if considered non-essential?
Businesses outside of the “essential” category may provide goods via curb-side/pickup/drive through. All social distancing guidelines should be followed.
Can production facilities and distribution centers stay open?
Yes, production facilities and distribution centers may remain open, so long as social distancing guidelines of six feet are followed. Workers may travel to and from work.
Are information technology and related businesses considered essential?
Yes, information technology businesses are considered “essential infrastructure” and may continue to provide essential business services. Social distancing guidelines are to be followed.
Are plumbers, electricians, mechanics and similar trades considered essential?
Yes, these are considered “essential businesses” as defined by the order.
If my restaurant/bar/gym limits access to 10 members or less at a time, does it have to close?
Restaurants are prohibited from providing service in their dining rooms. Restaurants may continue to provide drive through, pick up/curbside and delivery services. Bars, Nightclubs and other similar establishments are closed. Gyms and other similar businesses fall under the temporary closure order. All businesses which possess a license to sell alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption, but only via drive thru or in parking lots or at curb.
I’m an Albany State University student. Can I get my belongings from my dorm?
Albany State University has provided students with guidelines related to moving out during this situation. Those can be found here https://www.asurams.edu/studentaffairs/health-services/covid19-housing-move-out.php
Are daycares required to close under this order?
No. Childcare facilities are not included in this order but should maintain social distancing.
Does my church have to cancel in-person service?
Yes. However, virtual worship services are highly encouraged during this time of crisis in our community.
Can we still hold funeral services?
Yes, as long as indoor attendance is limited to less than 10 persons and social distancing is observed. Outdoor/graveside services are encouraged.
My hotel has a restaurant and/or continental breakfast buffet. Should that be closed?
Yes. Food should be delivered to rooms or picked up to-go during the effective period of the order.
Can my food truck remain operational?
Food trucks and mobile food operations may remain open so long as all social distancing guidelines are followed and the method of service is pick-up, take out, delivery only. Patrons are encouraged to remain in their vehicles until such a time as they must order or their food is prepared.
Are beauty and barber shops and nail salons allowed to stay open?
No. These establishments are expected to follow the order, which can be found at dougherty.ga.us under the News & Events/Public Notices section.
Can employees of businesses not affected by the order still be allowed to come in to work, but remain closed to the public?
The order does not require all private businesses to temporarily close.
Can we still maintain our dentist, eye doctor, and medical doctor appointments?
Yes. Hospitals and medical facilities are not included in the Community Gathering definition so long as persons are generally not within 6 feet of one another for extended periods.
Is the animal shelter remaining open?
Animal shelter operations are continuing as normal.
Will there be enforcement and how does that work?
A violation of the shelter in place order is a misdemeanor. If you have a complaint about businesses operating outside of the order or large community gatherings during the effective period, please notify the Emergency Operations Center at (229) 302-1900, seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The City and County may use other enforcement tools as allowed by law. To report a potential violation of the order, 229-431-2100 or 229-431-2132.
This was a lot of information to go through. If you have read this far, thank you. 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 coronavirus.
Have your own question or comment? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Bonus: What you need to know about handwashing from the CDC
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