Highlights of Governor Brian Kemp's "Reviving a Healthy Georgia" Executive Order

Information Current as of April 27, 2020

On April 23, 2020, Governor Kemp signed an Executive Order allowing many Georgia businesses to resume in-person operations. The Order, which is available here, provides a framework for re-opening the state and sets forth detailed health and safety guidelines for many businesses to follow during this first phase of re-opening.

The Order no longer establishes a “Minimum Basic Operations” exception for any business. Instead, it prescribes health and safety measures for businesses engaged in “in person operations,” some of which are required and some of which are merely suggested. The Order specifically addresses numerous industries, including restaurants, retail businesses, grocery stores, gyms and fitness centers, health care and dental providers, and child-care facilities, among others.

Although the Order allows many Georgia businesses to re-open, the following businesses must remain closed: public swimming pools, performance venues, amusement parks, and bars.

Below are some of the key business points of the Order. It is worth noting that, during the term of the Order, all Georgians must continue to practice social distancing, and (with a single enumerated exception) all businesses and other establishments are prohibited from allowing more than ten people in a single location if they will be closer to one another than six feet (a “Gathering”). This prohibition against Gathering applies in addition to applicable conditions described further in this alert. Sheltering at home will no longer be required during the term of the Order except for vulnerable populations; but use of face coverings in public is “strongly encouraged” for everyone. Any business planning to reopen during the term of the Order must keep these general measures in mind with respect to its employee population as well as its operational efforts.

Critical Infrastructure

Critical Infrastructure conducting in-person operations must implement certain measures to mitigate the exposure and spread of COVID-19. Section V of the Order sets forth 17 separate health and safety measures applicable to Critical Infrastructure. Although the Order states that Critical Infrastructure “shall” implement measures to mitigate the exposure and spread of COVID-19, it is not clear whether the 17 separate health and safety measures listed are strict requirements or mere suggestions. Without further guidance from the Governor’s office on the intent of this Order, the most conservative approach is to consider the 17 delineated health and safety measures applicable to Critical Infrastructure as requirements that, by the express terms of the Order, must be implemented to the maximum extent practicable. These health and safety measures include, but are not limited to:

  1. Screening and evaluating workers who exhibit signs of illness;
  2. Requiring workers who exhibit signs of illness to not report to work or to seek medical attention;
  3. Enhancing sanitation of the workplace as appropriate;
  4. Disinfecting common surfaces regularly;
  5. Requiring handwashing or sanitation by workers at appropriate places within the business location;
  6. Prohibiting Gatherings of workers during working hours;
  7. Permitting workers to take breaks and lunch in areas where proper social distancing is attainable;
  8. Implementing teleworking for all possible workers;
  9. Implementing staggered shifts for all possible workers;
  10. Holding all meetings and conferences virtually, whenever possible;
  11. Delivering intangible services remotely, whenever possible;
  12. Discouraging workers from using other workers' phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment;
  13. Prohibiting handshaking and other unnecessary person-to-person contact in the workplace;
  14. If in use, open sales registers must be at least six feet apart;
  15. Point of sale equipment should be frequently cleaned and sanitized;
  16. Placing notices that encourage hand hygiene at the entrance to the workplace and in other workplace areas where they are likely to be seen; and
  17. Suspending the use of PIN pads, PIN entry devices, electronic signature capture, and any other credit card receipt signature requirements to the extent such suspension is permitted by agreements with credit card companies and credit agencies.

Critical Infrastructure does not have to prohibit Gatherings entirely, but see above for several distancing measures that such companies are instructed to employ to the maximum extent practicable.

Businesses, Establishments, Corporations, Non-Profit Corporations or Organizations that are not Critical Infrastructure

All businesses, establishments, corporations, non-profit corporations, or organizations conducting in-person operations that are not Critical Infrastructure must implement the following health and safety measures (unlike the measures listed above for Critical Infrastructure, which must be implemented to the maximum extent practicable, the following measures must be implemented):

  1. Screening and evaluating workers who exhibit signs of illness;
  2. If a retail business, posting a sign on the storefront stating that individuals who have a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19 shall not enter the store;
  3. Requiring workers who exhibit signs of illness to not report to work or to seek medical attention;
  4. Enhancing sanitation of the workplace as appropriate;
  5. Disinfecting common surfaces regularly;
  6. Requiring hand washing or sanitation by workers at appropriate places within the business location;
  7. Prohibiting Gatherings of workers during working hours;
  8. Permitting workers to take breaks and meals where proper Social Distancing is attainable;
  9. Implementing teleworking for all possible workers;
  10. Implementing staggered shifts for all possible workers;
  11. Holding all meetings and conferences virtually, whenever possible;
  12. Delivering intangible services remotely, whenever possible;
  13. Discouraging workers from using other workers' phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment;
  14. Prohibiting handshaking and other unnecessary person-to-­person contact in the workplace;
  15. Placing notices that encourage hand hygiene at the entrance to the workplace and in other workplace areas where they are likely to be seen;
  16. Enforcing Social Distancing of non-cohabitating persons while present on such entity's leased or owned property;
  17. For retailers and service providers, providing for alternative points of sale outside of buildings, including curbside pick-up or delivery of products and/or services if an alternative point of sale is permitted under Georgia law;
  18. Open sales registers must be at least six feet apart;
  19. Point of sale equipment should be frequently cleaned and sanitized;
  20. Increasing physical space between workers and patrons; and
  21. Suspending the use of PIN pads, PIN entry devices, electronic signature capture, and any other credit card receipt signature requirements to the extent such suspension is permitted by agreements with credit card companies and credit agencies.

In addition to the measures outlined above, Critical Infrastructure and all other businesses should (but are not required to):

  1. Provide PPE as available and appropriate;
  2. Provide disinfectant and sanitation products for workers to clean their workspace, equipment and tools; and
  3. Increase physical space between workers’ worksites to at least 6 feet apart.

Additional Industry Specific Requirements

In addition to the measures set forth above, the Order specifies additional measures for specific industries.

Restaurants & Dining Services

Restaurants and dining services are subject to industry specific health and safety measures, a comprehensive summary of which is available here.

Retail

All retail businesses, including Food Establishments (such as retail and wholesale grocery stores) are required to implement additional measures, as practicable, including but not limited to: (1) limiting the number of patrons in stores, (2) encouraging patrons to use hand sanitizer, and (3) encouraging workers to report safety and health concerns to the employer, among other measures specified in the Order.

Food Establishments (including grocery stores)

Food Establishments (such as retail and wholesale grocery stores) are required to implement still further measures, which may include but are not limited to: (1) scheduling specific hours of operation for vulnerable populations, (2) reducing store hours to allow for increased cleaning, (3) enacting policies and procedures to encourage Social Distancing, such as protective plexi-glass screens at service counters and cash registers, (4) discontinuing sampling stations; and (5) closing self-serve salad bars and buffets, among other measures specified in the Order. Such measures are to be implemented by Food Establishments to the maximum extent practicable.

Gyms/Fitness Centers

Gyms and fitness centers are required to implement additional measures, as practicable, including but not limited to: (1) placing signage at any entrance to instruct patrons not to enter if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, had symptoms of COVID-19, or had any contact with a person that has or is suspected to have COVID-19, (2) utilizing contactless forms of patron check-in, (3) providing sanitation wipes at or near each piece of equipment and requiring users to wipe down equipment before and after each use, (4) halting group classes, (5) halting in-facility child-care services, and (6) limiting locker room use and avoiding it if possible, among other measures specified in the Order.

Body-Art Studios, Estheticians, Hair Designers, Massage Therapists, and Tanning Facilities

These business are required to implement additional measures, as practicable, including, but not limited to: (1) only providing services by appointment, (2) requiring patrons to sanitize their hands upon entry and before treatment, (3) allowing only one patron per service provider in the business at one time, (4) staggering the use of workstations or spacing workstations more than ten feet apart, as practicable, and (5) sanitizing all equipment, chairs and tables used between each client visit, among other measures specified in the Order.

Indoor Movie Theaters, Cinemas, and Bowling Alleys

The Order also contains additional industry specific measures that must be taken by indoor movie theaters, cinemas, and bowling alleys.

Healthcare Providers

Any person, service, or entity delivering healthcare must adhere to the guidelines for Critical Infrastructure in addition to certain guidelines specific to healthcare which are set forth in Section VI of the Order.

Any previous Executive Order or rule which would prevent dental practices and clinics, optometrists, opticians, or ambulatory surgical centers from providing the full scope of their services is suspended by Order, subject to the requirements set forth in the Order.

To the extent possible, hospitals, healthcare institutions, medical facilities, nursing homes, and other long-term care facilities should offer in-room dining.

Child-Care Facilities

Child-care facilities are subject to the requirements set forth in Section V of the Order pertaining to businesses that are not Critical Infrastructure, plus additional requirements set forth in Section VII of the Order.

Effective Dates

The portion of the Order governing restaurants becomes effective at 12:00 A.M. on Monday, April 27. The remainder of the Order (unless otherwise noted in the Order) is effective starting May 1, 2020 at 12:00 A.M. The entire Order will be effective through May 13 at 11:59 P.M.

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