On April 2, 2020, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp issued a shelter-in-place executive order, under which residents and visitors in Georgia must remain in their residences and take every precaution to limit social interaction starting at 6 PM on Friday, April 3, 2020, and ending at 11:59 PM on Monday, April 13, 2020.  The Order also requires all but certain businesses and professionals to stop all in-person operations and to close to the public, including bars, nightclubs, gyms, fitness centers, theaters, amusement parks, private social clubs, beauty shops and salons, barbershops, and tattoo parlors. 

The Order makes an exception to individuals engaging in Essential Services, working in a Critical Infrastructure occupation, performing Minimum Basic Operations, and engaging in Necessary Travel.  Many exceptions are extensive and have specific requirementsUnder the Essential Services exception, individuals may leave their residence to obtain necessary supplies and services for their households, engage in outdoor exercise (while maintaining at least six feet distance from other people), and engage in activities essential to the health and safety of their households.  Leaving the household for medical appointments is also permitted while the Order is in effect. Likewise, trips to grocery stores, restaurants (e.g. curbside-pickup and take-out), and pharmacies are allowed. 

One of the largest exceptions to the Order involves Critical Infrastructure entities and workers.  Critical Infrastructure includes suppliers providing essential goods and services to critical infrastructure workforce, legal services, home hospice, and non-profit entities that offer food distributions, health services, and mental health organizations.  The Critical Infrastructure workforce also incorporates “essential critical infrastructure workforce,” as defined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) in a March 2020 publication. The DHS’ essential critical infrastructure workforce definition contains sixteen categories, including healthcare, energy, information technology, transportation systems, defense, food and agriculture, and financial institutions.  There are numerous workers included in each of the sixteen essential critical infrastructure workforce categories. 

Business that do not fall into the Critical Infrastructure category may engage only in Minimum Basic Operations that includes minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business, establishment, or non-profit organization. Minimum necessary activities also include managing inventory, processing payroll and benefits, and facilitating remote work.  Non-critical infrastructure businesses must meet twenty specific requirements, such as screening workers, enhancing workplace sanitation, and suspending the use of PIN pads, PIN entry devices, and electronic signature capture. Non-critical infrastructure businesses may only engage in Minimum Basic Operations and must also follow the Social Distancing Rule, which is not explicitly defined in the Order, but usually refers to avoiding large gatherings and maintaining six feet distance from other individuals.  

The final exception is Necessary Travel, which includes any travel required to participate in or conduct Essential Services, Critical Infrastructure activities, and Minimum Basic Operations.  

The Governor’s Office has issued an FAQ handout about the Order, which can read following this link.