Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in Georgia, US, lift some restrictions on businesses starting April 24. Stay at home order in place through April 30.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Savannah, Georgia
  • Columbus, Georgia
  • Brunswick-Golden Isles, Georgia
  • Augusta, Georgia
  • Albany, Georgia
  • Macon-Warner Robins, Georgia
  • Waycross, Georgia
  • Valdosta, Georgia
  • Dalton, Georgia
  • Moultrie, Georgia
  • La Grange, Georgia

This alert began 21 Apr 2020 12:35 GMT and is scheduled to expire 30 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 Restrictions
  • Location(s): Georgia (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least April 30
  • Impact: Movement restrictions, significant business disruptions

Summary
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp announced the lifting of certain restrictions to some businesses starting April 24, as part of the state's response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Governor Kemp issued an executive order to allow certain nonessential businesses, including gyms and fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, and hair salons, to reopen starting April 24, as long as they follow a number of restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19. The businesses must screen all workers and require those with illness symptoms to remain at home, enhance sanitation, provide personal protective equipment to workers, prohibit gatherings, implement staggered shifts, and ensure physical space of at least 1.8 meters (2 feet) between workers. Businesses are also encouraged to maintain employees working from home whenever possible. Authorities in Georgia also plan to allow the reopening of in-person services in theaters, private social clubs, and restaurants starting April 27. The order indicates that local authorities cannot impose more strict measures, and must abide by the state's regulations. Elective surgeries, and other non-emergency medical procedures that had been temporarily suspended, can resume as soon as the healthcare providers consider it appropriate.

A stay-at-home order and requirements to maintain the closure of nonessential businesses will remain in place through at least April 30. The order stipulates that residents may only leave their homes to obtain basic goods, attend a medical issue, care for a person in need, perform outdoor recreational activities without gathering and maintaining a proper distance from other people, or to go to work at an essential business or service. Among the essential businesses that are allowed to continue operating are grocery stores, pharmacies, fuel stations, banks, and energy, transport, security, healthcare, and manufacturing companies. Essential businesses must screen their workers' health and maintain social distancing practices. Nonessential businesses can operate with their employees working from home.

Significant transport and business disruptions are likely. Authorities will almost certainly deploy additional security personnel to assist in enforcing the measure. Officials could amend the order at short notice, depending on the disease activity in the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential operations in areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
World Health Organisation (WHO): www.who.int

Georgia Department of Public Health - COVID-19: https://dph.georgia.gov/

Georgia Governor Shelter-in-Place Order: https://gov.georgia.gov/

George Governor - Executive Orders: https://gov.georgia.gov/executive-action/