Gov. Brian Kemp issued an executive order Monday mandating the Georgia Department of Public Health to require vulnerable populations to stay in their homes for the next two weeks because of the outbreak of the coronavirus disease known as COVID-19.
Kemp’s order targets the elderly people living in long-term care facilities; people with chronic lung diseases; people receiving cancer treatments; and people who have tested positive for COVID-19, suspect they have symptoms of the disease or have been exposed to someone who has the disease.
Rules and regulations explaining how people covered by the shelter-in-place or quarantine order can access essential services, receive visitors in end-of-life circumstances and travel will be issued by the Department of Public Health.
“These measures are intended to ensure the health and safety of Georgians across our state, and I ask for everyone’s cooperation over the next two weeks,” Kemp said. “They will protect the medically fragile, mitigate potential exposure in public venues, and allow the state to ramp up emergency preparedness efforts as cases increase in each region.”
The governor’s order will do more than order a shelter-in-place or quarantine for those groups, however. It will also order bars and nightclubs in Georgia to close for the next two weeks. Gatherings of more than 10 people, when social distancing of at least six feet cannot be maintained at all times, will also be barred under the order.
The order went into effect at noon Tuesday and will remain in effect until noon on April 6, Kemp said.
“The Department of Public Health will be empowered to close any business, establishment, non-profit, or organization for noncompliance,” Kemp said. “These measures were developed using guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Georgia Department of Public Health.”
It is not the only executive order the governor will be issuing to address the COVID-19 outbreak, though.
Kemp said he will also sign an order to lift restrictions that prevent medical professionals, whose licenses have lapsed or become inactive in the last five years, from practicing medicine. That order will also make it possible for graduate nursing students who have not yet taken their licensing exam to seek a temporary license from the Georgia Board of Nursing so they can help with the COVID-19 response in the state.
“These measures will directly address critical healthcare needs in the weeks ahead,” Kemp said.