The Georgia Governor's office issued a list of questions and answers about plans to allow the reopening of some businesses beginning Friday.
Which new entities can engage in Minimum Basic Operations?
Gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, cosmetologists, hair designers, nail care artists, estheticians, their respective schools, and massage therapists can begin engaging in Minimum Basic Operations on Friday, April 24, 2020. This means these businesses can open to the public on a limited basis, subject to restrictions.
The current shelter-in-place order will expire at 11:59 P.M. on April 30, 2020. After that date, new rules will be promulgated by the Governor through Executive Order to continue to limit social interaction while providing flexibility for business owners to maintain the value of their business.
Restaurants and dining rooms of private social clubs will be allowed to reopen on a limited basis on Monday, April 27, 2020, subject to new restrictions to be promulgated by the Governor on Thursday, April 23, 2020. Theaters will also be permitted to engage in Minimum Basic Operations beginning Monday, April 27, 2020, subject to new restrictions to be promulgated by the Governor on Thursday, April 23, 2020.
Bars, nightclubs, amusement park ride operators, and live performance venues will remain closed through at least May 13, 2020 when the Public Health State of Emergency is set to expire.
What are Minimum Basic Operations?
Minimum Basic Operations include the following categories:
• The minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of a business, establishment, corporation, non-profit corporation, or organization; provide services; manage inventory; ensure security; process payroll and employee benefits; or for related functions, and such minimum necessary activities include remaining open to the public subject to the restrictions of this Order
• The minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees or volunteers being able to work remotely from their residences or members or patrons being able to participate remotely from their residences
• Instances where employees are working outdoors without regular contact with other persons, such as delivery services, contractors, landscape businesses, and agricultural industry services
All businesses, establishments, corporations, non-profit corporations, and organizations that are subject to the Minimum Basic Operations restrictions shall implement measures which mitigate the exposure and spread of COVID-19.
Such measures shall include:
1. Screening and evaluating workers who exhibit signs of illness, such as a fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, cough, or shortness of breath;
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. Requiring hand washing or sanitation by workers at appropriate places within the business location;
5. Providing personal protective equipment as available and appropriate to the function and location of the worker within the business location;
6. Prohibiting gatherings of workers during working hours;
7. Permitting workers to take breaks and meals outside, in their office or personal workspace, or in such other 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, wherever possible;
11. Delivering intangible services remotely wherever 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. Placing notices that encourage hand hygiene at the entrance to the workplace and in other workplace areas where they are likely to be seen;
15. Suspending the use of Personal Identification Number (“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;
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 pickup or delivery of products and/or services if an alternative point of sale is permitted under Georgia law;
18. Increasing physical space between workers and customers;
19. Providing disinfectant and sanitation products for workers to clean their workspace, equipment, and tools;
20. Increasing physical space between workers’ worksites to at least six (6) feet.
Can healthcare facilities conduct elective surgeries?
Many healthcare facilities across Georgia voluntarily ceased elective surgeries to reduce equipment and personnel shortages. Given recent changes in modeling related to surge 3 capacity and national supply, Georgia healthcare facilities are better positioned to secure the necessary personal protective equipment to resume elective surgeries.
How does this Executive Order apply to places of worship?
Holding in-person services at places of worship is allowed, but services must be held in accordance with strict social distancing protocols.
At the beginning of the pandemic, places of worship were asked to move to online or drive-in services to help Georgia flatten the curve for coronavirus.
The Governor is appreciative of faith leaders taking these measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Although online or drive-in services remain the best way to prevent the spread of the virus, now that we have greater capacity in our healthcare system, the Governor wants to provide places of worship the flexibility to return to in-person services.
Nothing prevents a place of worship from hosting an in-person service, and the state will not stand in the way of these efforts.
However, places of worship should maintain strict social distancing if they choose to return to in-person services.
Parishioners should maintain at least six feet of distance from those persons that do not cohabitate with them.
All organizations are required to limit gatherings to a size where social distancing may be enforced among all persons. This means in looking at the entire square footage of a gathering space, a place of worship should ensure there is enough room for all persons to have at least six feet between themselves and anyone else if needed.
Best Practices for Religious Services
This list does not cover every scenario. Places of worship and religious institutions need to tailor their guidance to reflect their specific needs and resources.
• Online, call-in, or drive-in services remain the best options to mitigate potential exposure to coronavirus.
• Do not attend religious services if you are not feeling well, have a fever, or have had direct contact with someone who likely has or is confirmed to have COVID-19.
• Throughout the service, maintain at least six feet between the person in front of you, behind you, and each side of you.
• Family members and cohabitating individuals are allowed to sit together.
• Please wear a face mask or cloth covering to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
• Depending on the size of the congregation, additional services may be necessary to achieve at least six feet between non-cohabitating members.
• When members arrive, they should immediately be seated, and once a service ends, rows should be emptied sequentially with everyone immediately going to their vehicles.
• Refrain from using items touched by multiple people unless you can sanitize after each use. For example, in lieu of offering plates, consider using a dropbox.
• If you closed nurseries, childcare, Sunday School classes, or related functions, strongly consider keeping them closed for the foreseeable future.
• Medically fragile and elderly Georgians should continue to shelter in place and utilize remote services instead of in-person services.
• Strongly consider cancelling choir and choir practice to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Is the Governor’s Shelter in Place Order still in effect?
The Shelter in Place Order is still active and expires at 11:59 PM on April 30, 2020 for most Georgians.
Medically fragile and elderly Georgians should plan to continue sheltering in place through at least May 13, 2020.
The Governor’s Office urges everyone to continue to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Georgia Department of Public Health guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19.