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April 2020

Georgia’s Shelter in Place Extended – the Continued Efforts to Respond to COVID-19

April 10, 2020

On April 2, 2020, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed a statewide shelter in place order. The order went into effect the following afternoon.

On April 8, 2020, Governor Kemp felt it necessary to continue his efforts to respond to the growing COVID-19 outbreak currently occurring in Georgia. Since the enactment of the statewide shelter in place order, multiple new executive orders have been issued governing activities and movements throughout the state of Georgia.

I. Background

As mentioned above, Georgia’s first statewide shelter in place order was signed on April 2, 2020. The initial order required anyone visiting or residing in the state of Georgia to shelter in their homes and places of residence from April 3, 2020 to April 13, 2020. It also required individuals to “take[] every precaution to limit social interaction to prevent the spread or infection of COVID-19.” Individuals and businesses were both impacted. A more detailed discussion of the initial order can be found here.

II. Follow-Up Orders

A. Enforcement Protocol

Shortly after the statewide shelter in place order went into effect, Governor Kemp issued an order authorizing Sheriffs within the state to enforce its provisions. That order, which was formally signed into place on April 3, 2020, gave Sheriffs the power to impose consequences upon individuals and businesses who failed to comply with the social distancing requirements established under the statewide shelter in place order. Sheriffs were specifically given the power to close non-compliant businesses. Interestingly, the order also required that Sheriffs provide reasonable time and notice to businesses before ordering them to close.

B. Expansion of Essential Services

Governor Kemp issued another order on April 3, 2020. The second order sought to accomplish two things with respect to the statewide shelter in place order. First, it expanded the definition of “Essential Services” under the statewide shelter in place order. Second, it clarified the enforcement of the statewide shelter in place order.

To accomplish the first point, Governor Kemp clarified that any action taken to assist an individual who is dependent upon the care of others would be considered an Essential Service. It also allowed children to seek internet connections outside of their homes if doing so would be necessary to fulfil educational obligations.

The second point was a bit more nuanced. This order clarified that all law enforcement officers in Georgia have the power to enforce the statewide shelter in place order – not just Sheriffs. That said, only Sheriffs have the power to close businesses deemed to be in non-compliance with the shelter in place order. 

C. Increased National Guard Involvement

On April 8, 2020, Governor Kemp issued an order directing the Georgia Department of Defense to provide an additional 1,000 National Guard troops to assist in the response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

D. Suspension of Short Term Rentals

In a separate April 8, 2020 order, Governor Kemp signed an order that will have a considerable impact on Georgia’s vacation rental industry. The order prohibits anyone from engaging in the rental of a residential property for residential or vacation purposes through April 30, 2020.

While the language of this order seems broad, it specifically exempts hotels, extended-stay hotels, campgrounds, and commercial transactions from its scope. It also does not apply to leases being used as a person’s primary place of residence. While persons violating the order can be found guilty of a misdemeanor, law enforcement is explicitly prohibited from enforcing the order’s requirements through eviction or dispossession.

E. Nursing Homes

Governor Kemp continued his flurry of COVID-19 related announcements on April 8, 2020 by signing an order imposing regulations on nursing homes.

The order does not only apply to nursing homes. It includes: Intermediate care facilities, Nursing homes, Inpatient hospice, Assisted living communities, Community living arrangements, and Community integration homes.

The above-mentioned facilities are not required to close. However, to comply with the order, they must:

  1. Adhere to the regulations imposed upon non-Critical Infrastructure in the statewide shelter in place order,
  2. Adhere to guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and the Georgia Department of Public Health,
  3. Adopt infectious disease transfer with local hospitals,
  4. Determine if an individual testing positive for COVID-19 needs to be hospitalized based on medical necessity,
  5. Prohibit visitors and non-essential personnel with limited exceptions,
  6. Provide in-room dining services – if possible,
  7. Cancel group activities – if possible,
  8. Establish social distancing infrastructure for residents and employees,
  9. Require employees to wash their hands for 20 seconds or to use approved hand sanitizer after any interaction with a resident,
  10. Implement measures to screen residents for fever and shortness of breath,
  11. Screen all employees before each shift for fever or respiratory symptoms,
  12. Establish reporting procedures for employees exposed to COVID-19,
  13. Require employees to self-quarantine and avoid work for 14 days after being exposed to COVID-19,
  14. Implement universal use of facemasks and other personal protective equipment,
  15. Use Standard, Contact, and Droplet precautions – and eye protection – when caring for residents with undiagnosed or unidentified respiratory conditions and infections,
  16. Use EPA-registered List N, hospital-grade disinfectants for high-touch surfaces and shared resident-care equipment,
  17. Cohort residents with symptoms of respiratory infection and identify specific healthcare personnel to work in affected units, and
  18. Designate an area to quarantine patients upon admission until their COVID-19 status can be evaluated.

According to the order, the Georgia Department of Public Health has the authority to issue additional directives relating to patient care in these facilities. The order remains in effect until April 30, 2020.

F. Extension of Statewide Shelter in Place Order

The final COVID-19 related order issued by Governor Kemp on April 8, 2020 extended the effective period of the statewide shelter in place order. Originally, the statewide shelter in place order was to expire on April 13, 2020. With this extension, the order will not expire until April 30, 2020.

This extension also applies to the order authorizing Sheriffs to enforce the statewide shelter in place order and the order expanding the definition of Essential Services under the shelter in place order. These orders are now also active through April 30, 2020.


Visit our COVID-19 Hub for ongoing updates.

Employment Law

Chad A. Shultz

Employment Law