Governor Brian Kemp issued an updated Shelter in Place Order to go into effect tomorrow, April 3, 2020 at 6:00 PM. All provisions of the Order go into effect until 11:59 PM on Monday, April 13, 2020.
As a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer, I have been receiving questions from friends, family, and clients about how this Order will be enforced. If you read to the bottom of the Order itself, the document explains that pursuant to OCGA 38-3-7, any person who violates the Order will be guilty of a misdemeanor in Georgia. It also notes that officials enforcing this Order should take reasonable steps to provide notice prior to issuing a citation or making an arrest.
All of the provisions of the Order override any local or county-level ordinances regarding COVID-19. This statewide Order has been issued in order to respond to the public health state of emergency. The purpose is to order residents to shelter-in-place, order a quarantine, and combat the spread of coronavirus or COVID-19.
The Georgia Department of Public Health has determined that COVID-19 is spreading throughout communities in the state of Georgia. This spread has required the implementation of certain restrictions to limit the spread according to state government. Governor Brian Kemp is given the power to perform and exercise other functions, powers, and duties as may be deemed necessary to "promote and secure the safety and protection of the civilian population." This power comes from the Georgia Code.
The Georgia Code also gives the Department of Public Health with the power to segregate and isolate certain individuals with certain communicable diseases such as COVID-19 or conditions when said individuals' exposure to the general population is likely to endanger the health of others.
The Order requires that all residents and visitors of the state of Georgia shall not only practice social distancing and sanitation but that no business shall allow more than ten persons to be gathered at a single location if the gathering requires persons to stand or to be seated within six feet of any other person. More importantly, it also requires that all residents and visitors are required to shelter in place within their homes or places of residence. All people within the state are to limit all social interaction to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to themselves or any other person.
There are certain exceptions but they are few and apply only to those conducting or participating in what has been defined as Essential Services, performing Necessary Travel, engaging in the performance of Minimum Basic Operations, or are a part of the workforce for Critical Infrastructure.
To learn more about what is allowed and not allowed, call our offices today.