A Closer Look: Georgia shelter-in-place order

State - Regional

ATLANTA (WSAV) — A nine-page document signed by Governor Brian Kemp Thursday makes it official: Georgians must shelter in place to combat the spread of COVID-19.

From 6 p.m. on Friday, April 3 through Monday, April 13, the mandatory lockdown will remain in effect.

This means residents and visitors in Georgia must stay at home, taking “every possible precaution” to limit social interaction.

For Savannah — this doesn’t change much. Mayor Van Johnson last week announced a similar measure for the city with a different expiration date.

But now, across the state, Georgians must only go out for the essentials: trips to the grocery store, pharmacy or work.

“If we have to we will put the National Guard and Georgia State Patrol getting groceries and supplies to the businesses to keep our families fed, to keep the medicines flowing, to get healthcare equipment that’s coming into our state,” Kemp said during a press conference Wednesday.

Restaurants can still remain open for delivery, drive-thru or takeout.

Outdoor exercise is allowed as long as six feet of social distance is maintained between those who don’t live in the same household.

Meanwhile, public gatherings, which have long been discouraged, are now prohibited.

Visits to nursing homes won’t be allowed unless it’s for end of life circumstances.

And for the next 10 days, gyms, bowling alleys, theaters, hair salons, tattoo studios and massage parlors will be closed.

Kemp’s order states that “critical” businesses can operate with fewer than 10 people as long as that six feet rule is followed.

If the state abides by this, Kemp says this will help flatten the curve — meaning Georgia won’t reach capacity when it comes to hospital beds.

So far, more than 5,000 people in the state have tested positive and at least 176 people have died from COVID-19 complications. News 3 asked the governor if he thought lives could’ve been spared if a shelter-in-place order was established earlier.

“What we had earlier was what the healthcare professionals asked us to do,” Kemp responded.

“When you look at the orders I put in place versus what other states did…you can call it what you want but if the press would dig in and compare, they would see what Georgia has in place is strict compared to other states around the country,” he added.

The Georgia National Guard, the Department of Public Health and other state officials are now authorized to assist in enforcing the governor’s order.

Violators could face misdemeanor charges, fines or arrests.

Further, any businesses or organizations not in compliance with the order may be forced to close.

“As we take the fight to COVID-19, I’m asking Georgians to hunker down, follow the directives we’ve issued and help us flatten the curve,” the governor stated in a video released Thursday, adding, “We are in this fight together.”

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