Yesterday, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp issued an Executive Order that many are calling a directive to “stay at home” or “shelter in place.” This Order goes into effect at 6:00 pm tonight and will last, at least, through April 13, 2020. The Stay at Home Order has many small business owners concerned about whether they will be allowed to continue operating their businesses and, even if they can, what disruptions may arise to their operations.
Yes, the Order does require individuals to stay at home and not travel, but there is an exception for employers and employees who must go to work in a business that is considered an Essential Service, Minimum Basic Operation, or Critical Infrastructure. But, what do those terms really mean?
Any business may continue Minimum Basic Operations, which the Order defines as activities required to maintain the value of your business, pay your employees, and manage inventory, among others. This appears to mean that you should try to have employees telework and limit contact with others, but if you need people on-site to keep your business afloat, your business may stay open.
Critical Infrastructure is a term used by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to describe industries that are essential to supporting communities. Some of these businesses include restaurants, food, and agriculture, information technology, communications, finance, healthcare, government, and emergency services. There may be a good chance that your company falls into one of these categories.
The Order also includes legal services, home hospice, and nonprofit organizations delivering food and health services in its list of Critical Infrastructure. Yes, your attorney is still able to work for you.
Finally, Governor Kemp is also allowing other business offering Essential Services to continue. This means that stores and businesses providing food, cleaning and medical supplies, safety equipment, and others may operate, but it strongly encourage online ordering, home delivery, and curbside pickup wherever possible.
No matter what level of operations you are permitted, the Order requires businesses allowed to stay open to practice social distancing in compliance with CDC recommendations and appears to ban any business from any activity where more than ten people must be within close proximity to one another. The Governor also mandates that businesses take measures that will prevent the spread of the virus among its customers and employees.
In all, it appears that many Georgia businesses may continue operation so long as they are incorporating measures to prevent the spread of this disease. We hope that this information is helpful in such an uncertain and confusing time, and we remain ready to help small businesses and employers navigate this and other legal challenges. Stay safe, healthy, and well and call us today at (478) 202-7050 if we can assist you with any of you company's legal needs.