As of 6PM tonight, April 3rd, Governor Kemp has issued a new Shelter in Place order that supersedes his March 23rd Shelter in Place order and all local orders that were previously in place. Although the new order imposes misdemeanor charges on violators, it's remarkable that it appears to have substantially fewer restrictions than orders that were in place in metro areas like the city of Atlanta.
The new order specifically closes certain types of business establishments, including but not limited to bars, nightclubs, gyms, theaters, and massage therapists. Beyond that, the new order appears to give many businesses the ability to stay open, with certain limitations.
For instance, all businesses that aren't specifically closed by the order, even if they aren't deemed “critical”, may remain open to conduct “minimum business operations.” The definition of “minimum business operations” appears to be very broad, allowing businesses to remain open to: 1) maintain the value of the business; 2) provide services; 3) manage inventory; 4) ensure security; 5) process payroll and employee benefits; and 6) related functions.
Such businesses may even remain open to the public, as long as they keep people at least 6 feet apart. That said, they are required to take a lengthy series of safety measures, including screening workers who exhibit signs of illness, requiring sick workers to stay home, enhancing sanitation, and implementing telework or staggered shifts where possible.
Because Kemp's Order provide statewide rules that are less than stringent than what we've been operating under in the various metro areas, we're concerned that the government responses to COVID-19 are beginning to be more politically driven than public-safety driven. While we certainly encourage adherence to the Executive Order at a minimum, we believe the best practice for us as firm is to put safety first and continue working remotely in accordance with the more stringent local orders previously in place. We encourage others to do so, as well, to the extent practicable.
The new order that goes into effect this evening is here.
If you are an employee with questions about what this means for you, please feel free to reach out for a conversation with one of our experienced Atlanta Employment Attorneys at 404-487-0903.
To report a violation of the Governor's Executive Order, CLICK HERE. This will take you to a form to fill out. Please include the following information in your report:
- Business Name
- Telephone Number
- Specific details of the complaint