Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in Georgia, US, to ease additional COVID-related business restrictions starting May 14. Other directives remain in place.

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 13 May 2020 22:02 GMT and is scheduled to expire 31 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Georgia (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least June
  • Impact: Significant business and transport disruptions

Summary
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has issued an executive order to ease restrictions on additional businesses starting May 14 as part of his state's coronavirus (COVID-19) recovery plan. Under the new directive, childcare centers will be allowed to operate with a maximum of 20 people per room, and summer camps will be allowed to open. Dine-in services at restaurants will be allowed, with capacity restricted to no more than 10 customers every 28 square meters (300 square feet), with a limit of 10 people per table. The same executive order also extends existing requirements for residents 65 years and older, as well as persons with underlying conditions, to remain at home, except to perform essential tasks, through June 12.

Georgia had implemented three earlier rounds of relaxations - on April 24, April 27, and May 1 - enabling several types of businesses to reopen, including fitness centers, personal care businesses, theaters, private clubs, and some retailers. Live performance venues, bars, and nightclubs must remain closed through at least May 31. Schools statewide will remain closed to in-person lessons through the end of the school year. State parks are open, but visitor centers and museums are closed. Essential businesses, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, and those in the media, security, transport, and critical manufacturing sectors, may continue operating.

All operating businesses and facilities must comply with certain mandates aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, including enhancing sanitation procedures, adhering to social distancing standards, and performing health screening on workers and customers, among other things. Specific requirements may vary by industry. Businesses are still encouraged to keep employees working from home whenever possible.

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

Background and Analysis
The relaxation of some measures will likely accelerate in the coming weeks; however, restrictions may be reimposed or extended further should the number of COVID-19 cases increase. 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.


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