Georgia cities asked to declare public health emergencies; Atlanta mayor issues stay-at-home order
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Atlanta, GA – The Georgia Municipal Association is urging all leaders in Georgia’s 538 cities to declare public health emergencies in response to COVID-19.
The cities are encouraged to follow GMA’s model ordinance. Many local cities already have done this. The public health emergencies are intended to stop the spread of the virus. The call from GMA came a day after Gov. Brian Kemp declined to order a statewide shutdown to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“Swift action by local governments in the state is needed to prevent Georgia from going past the point of no return,” Carlos del Rio, Executive Associate Dean for Emory at Grady Health System, said in a press release. “If left unchecked, the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to a crippling of Georgia’s healthcare system, and thus immediate measures are needed at the local level to stem the spread of the virus before the healthcare system is overwhelmed.”
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GMA Executive Director Larry Hanson reminded cities that they do have the authority to enforce social distancing if needed.
“Both cities and counties have inherent police powers to take emergency actions in the state of Georgia,” Hanson said. “Additionally, the United States Supreme Court has held that a local government utilizing its police powers in a reasonable manner ‘to prevent the spread of contagious diseases’ does not violate the Constitution.”
In other news, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has issued a stay-at-home order.
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Here is the full announcement about the order from the city of Atlanta:
ATLANTA— Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued an Executive Order instituting a temporary order for those individuals within the territorial jurisdictional limits of the City of Atlanta to stay in their place of residence in response to the rising number of COVID-19 infections.
“I appreciate the leadership of Governor Brian Kemp during this crisis and his concern for the wellbeing of the people across Georgia,” said Mayor Bottoms. “While Governor Kemp has to consider the needs of the state as a whole, as Mayor of Atlanta, I have been entrusted with making decisions that are specific to our city. Given our population density, high rate of asthma, and various underlying health conditions found within our city’s populations, I am issuing a Stay at Home Order for Atlantans.”
“Until we flatten the curve of COVID-19 infections, the City must exercise every reasonable power to slow the spread of this virus,” said Mayor Bottoms. “Across the globe we are seeing a growing sense of urgency, and we must all make some sacrifices to break the chain of infections and avert a worst-case scenario.”
Today’s action orders those within the territorial limits of Atlanta to stay in their place of residence and encourages those sharing residential spaces to maintain social distancing of at least six feet.
The Order requires Atlantans to remain in their homes throughout the day. Individuals may leave their place of residence only for essential activities, essential governmental functions or to operate essential businesses.
You can view Mayor Bottoms’ Executive Order online here.
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The restrictions and exemptions are as follows:
SECTION 1.It is my opinion that there exists an extreme likelihood of destruction of life or property within the territorial jurisdictional limits of the City of Atlanta due to the unusual condition of the COVID-19 Pandemic, and in accordance with Section 2-181(a) of the City of Atlanta Code of Ordinances, I hereby declare there to be an emergency in existence within the territorial jurisdictional limits of the City of Atlanta.
SECTION 2. In accordance with this emergency declaration, I am exercising my emergency powers in accordance with Section 2-181(b) of the City of Atlanta Code of Ordinances to order that all individuals living in the territorial jurisdictional limits of the City of Atlanta are directed to stay at their place of residence; to permit persons subject to this order to leave their places of residence to provide or receive certain essential services or engage in certain essential activities and work for essential business and government services; to exempt individuals experiencing homelessness from this order but urging them to find shelter and government agencies and non-profit service providers to provide it; directing all businesses to cease non-essential operations at physical locations within the City of Atlanta; prohibiting all non-essential gatherings of any number of individuals.
SECTION 3. Pursuant to this order all individuals currently living within the territorial jurisdictional limits of the City of Atlanta are ordered to stay at their place of residence. To the extent individuals are using shared or outdoor spaces, they must at all times as reasonably possible maintain social distancing of at least six feet from any other person when they are outside their residence. All persons may leave their residences only for Essential Activities, Essential Governmental Functions, or to operate Essential Businesses, all as defined herein. Individuals experiencing homelessness are exempt from this Order, but are strongly urged to obtain shelter, and governmental and other entities are strongly urged to make such shelter available as soon as possible and to the maximum extent practicable (and to use COVID-19 risk mitigation practices in their operation).
SECTION 4. All businesses with a facility in the territorial jurisdictional limits of the City of Atlanta, except Essential Businesses as defined herein, are required to cease all activities at facilities located therein except Minimum Basic Operations, as defined herein. For clarity, businesses may also continue operations consisting exclusively of employees or contractors performing activities at their own residences (i.e., working from home). All Essential Businesses are strongly encouraged to remain open. To the greatest extent feasible, Essential Businesses shall comply with Social Distancing Requirements as defined herein, including by maintaining six-foot social distancing for both employees and members of the public, including, but not limited to, when any customers are standing in line.
SECTION 5. All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single household or living unit are prohibited, except for the limited purposes as expressly permitted herein.
Nothing in this Order prohibits the gathering of members of a household or living unit.
SECTION 6. Definitions and Exemptions.
(a) For purposes of this Order, individuals may leave their residence only to perform any of the following “Essential Activities.” But people at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and people who are sick are urged to stay in their residence to the extent possible except as necessary to seek medical care.
i. To engage in activities or perform tasks essential to their health and safety, or to the health and safety of their family or household members (including, but not limited to, pets), such as, by way of example only and without limitation, obtaining medical supplies or medication, visiting a health care professional, or obtaining supplies they need to work from home.
ii. To obtain necessary services or supplies for themselves and their family or household members, or to deliver those services or supplies to others, such as, by way of example only and without limitation, canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supply, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, and any other household consumer products, and products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences.
iii. To engage in outdoor activity, provided the individuals comply with Social Distancing Requirements as defined in this Section, such as, by way of example and without limitation, walking, hiking, or running.
iv. To perform work providing essential products and services at an Essential Business or to otherwise carry out activities specifically permitted in this Order, including Minimum Basic Operations.
v. To care for a family member or pet in another household.
(b) For purposes of this Order, individuals may leave their residence to work for or obtain services at any “Healthcare Operations” including hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmacies, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, other healthcare facilities, healthcare suppliers, home healthcare services providers, mental health providers, or any related and/or ancillary healthcare services. “Healthcare Operations” also includes veterinary care and all healthcare services provided to animals. This exemption shall be construed broadly to avoid any impacts to the delivery of healthcare, broadly defined. “Healthcare Operations” does not include fitness and exercise gyms and similar facilities.
(c) For purposes of this Order, individuals may leave their residence to provide any services or perform any work necessary to the operations and maintenance of “Essential Infrastructure,” including, but not limited to public works construction, airport operations, utility, water, sewer, gas, electrical, oil refining, roads and highways, railroads, public transportation, taxi/rideshare, solid waste collection and removal, internet, and telecommunications systems (including the provision of essential global, national, and local infrastructure for computing services, business infrastructure, communications, and web-based services), provided that they carry out those services or that work in compliance with Social Distancing Requirements as defined herein, to the extent possible.
(d) For purposes of this Order, all first responders, emergency management personnel, emergency dispatchers, court personnel, and law enforcement personnel, and others working for or to support Essential Businesses are categorically exempt from this Order. Further, nothing in this Order shall prohibit any individual from performing or accessing “Essential Governmental Functions.”
Essential Government Functions means all services needed to ensure the continuing operation of the government agencies and provide for the health, safety and welfare of the public. All Essential Governmental Functions shall be performed in compliance with Social Distancing Requirements as defined this Section, to the extent possible.
(e) For the purposes of this Order, covered businesses include any for-profit, non-profit, or educational entities, regardless of the nature of the service, the function they perform, or its corporate or entity structure.
(f) For the purposes of this Order, “Essential Businesses” means:
1. Healthcare Operations and Essential Infrastructure;
2. Grocery stores, farmers’ markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores, and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supply, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, and any other household consumer products (such as cleaning and personal care products). This includes stores that sell groceries and also sell other non-grocery products, and products necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences;
3. Food cultivation, including farming, livestock, and fishing;
4. Businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals;
5. Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services;
6. Gas stations and auto-supply, auto-repair, and related facilities;
7. Banks and related financial institutions;
8. Hardware stores; lodging businesses (e.g., hotels, motels, conference centers);
9. Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, Essential Activities, and Essential Businesses;
10. Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes;
11. Educational institutions—including public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities—for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions, provided that social distancing of six-feet per person is maintained to the greatest extent possible;
12. Laundromats, dry cleaners, and laundry service providers;
13. Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or carry out. Schools and other entities that typically provide food services to students or members of the public may continue to do so under this Order on the condition that the food is provided to students or members of the public on a pick-up and takeaway basis only. Schools and other entities that provide food services under this exemption shall not permit the food to be eaten at the site where it is provided, or at any other gathering site. Cafeterias in hospitals, nursing homes, or similar facilities shall not be subject to the restrictions contained in this order.
14. Businesses that supply products needed for people to work from home;
15. Businesses that supply other essential businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate;
16. Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to residences;
17. Home-based care for seniors, adults, or children;
18. Residential facilities and shelters for seniors, adults, and children;
19. Professional services, such as legal or accounting services;
20. Childcare facilities; and
21. Utility, water, sewer, gas, electrical, oil refining, roads and highways, railroads, public transportation, taxi/rideshare, solid waste collection and removal, internet, and telecommunications systems (including the provision of essential global, national, and local infrastructure for computing services, business infrastructure, communications, and web-based services).
(g) For the purposes of this Order, “Minimum Basic Operations” include the following, provided that employees comply with Social Distancing Requirements as defined this Section, to the extent possible, while carrying out such operations:
1. The minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions.
2. The minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences.
SECTION 7. This order shall be effective on March 24th at midnight and is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the City of Atlanta, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
Today’s Order is the latest action taken by Mayor Bottoms to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the City of Atlanta.
Mayor Bottoms issued an Executive Order calling for the closure of all bars and nightclubs that do not serve food, gyms and fitness centers, movie theaters, live performance venues, bowling alleys, and arcades, and private social clubs, located within the territorial jurisdictional limits of the City of Atlanta. However, restaurants and other eating and drinking establishments where food is served may continue preparing and offering food to customers via delivery service, drive-through, or take-out.
Recently, Mayor Bottoms issued anAdministrative Order directing the Atlanta Police Department to refrain from enforcing prohibitions against the sale of unopened wine or malt beverages by the package for off premises consumption by restaurants and other eating and drinking establishments licensed for the sale of those beverages.
To combat the COVID-19 health threat, Mayor Bottoms issued an Executive Order prohibiting public gatherings and events of 50 or more persons within the City of Atlanta until March 31, 2020; as well as an Executive Order requiring restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theatres, clubs, and other public gathering spots to limit their occupancy to no more than 50 people.
Mayor Bottoms also issued a directive for the Centers of Hope Afterschool program to continue to provide free meals to all students who rely on them throughout the closure of schools. For more information on the Centers of Hope Afterschool Program and Registration, please visit the Official Website.
The City has also posted prevention information and additional resources related to COVID-19 on its websitehere.
Chief among the City’s guidance to residents and visitors are the following preventative measures:
1. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
3. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
4. Stay home when you are sick.
5. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
6. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
7. If you have recently returned from a country with ongoing COVID-19 infections monitor your health and follow the instructions of public health officials
Recommended CDC safety guidelines can be found online here.
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