Major Points from Governor Kemp’s 03.12.21.01 Executive Order

On March 12, 2021, Governor Kemp issued Executive Order 03.12.21.01 hereinafter “the Order”) which extends the already applicable rules enacted by the Governor until March 31, 2021 at 11:59 P.M. The Order lays out detailed provisions to govern the ongoing Public Health State of Emergency. In the Order, the Governor covered the following topics related to the Coronavirus public health emergency. (New provisions are bolded and italicized).

Definition (see pages 7-11 of the Order)

Definitions of terms used in this and previous orders, such as “Social Distancing”, “Shelter in Place”, “Gathering”, “Organization”, “Post-Exposure Quarantine Protocol,” and “Critical Infrastructure” remain in place.

The Order has added the term “Bar” which means an Organization which possesses a license to operate a bar or otherwise meets the definition of “bar” as defined by O.C.G.A. § 3-1-2(2.1).

The definition of “Restaurants and Dining Rooms” has been amended to remove the words “and Dining Rooms”

The Order includes language on quarantine protocol to reflect the CDC's guidance regarding individuals who have been fully vaccinated or recently recovered from COVID-19.

The Order includes guidance for most businesses to follow the “Post-Exposure Quarantine Protocol,” in accordance with the new CDC guidance on exposure. Once employers have conducted a “6-15-48” analysis, (which indicates that workers should be considered to be at risk of contracting the Covid-19 if they were within six feet of an infected individual for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period during the 48 hours before the infected individual exhibited symptoms or, if asymptomatic, 48 hours before the COVID-19 test was administered, even if the interactions that lead to a cumulative total of 15 minutes were brief and spread out over that time).

Following this rule, the current options for employers in Georgia who have employees exposed to COVID-19 are to have exposed employees either:

  • Quarantine at their home or place of residence for 14 days from the date of most recent exposure;
  • Quarantine at their home or place of residence for at least 10 days from the date of most recent exposure, then practice extreme diligence in monitoring for Symptoms of COVID-19, wearing a face covering, and social distancing until 14 days have passed since the date of most recent exposure; or
  • Quarantine at their home or place of residence for at least seven days from the date of most recent exposure if a COVID-19 test was taken no earlier than day five of quarantine and a negative result is received, then practice extreme diligence in monitoring for Symptoms of COVID-19, wearing a face covering, and social distancing until 14 days have passed since the date of most recent exposure.

Local Option Face Covering Requirement (see pages 39-40 of the Order)

In the 08.15.20.01 order the Governor issued specific provisions concerning local face covering requirements. Those provisions were renewed in the subsequent orders. Local governments may impose such Face Covering Requirements as follows:

  1. Local governments which had met the Threshold requirement (as defined in the Order as being in a county having a prevalence of 100 cases per 100,000 people over the past 14 days) are allowed to impose a Local Option Face Covering Requirement but are not required to do so. (Case numbers can change daily so we advise cities monitor this closely to ensure they remain in compliance.)
  2. If a local government decides to impose a face covering requirement it has to comply with the following:
    1. The requirement cannot be applied to people who are eating or drinking, who have difficulty putting on or taking off a face covering without assistance, those who have a religious objection, and those who have a medical reason for not wearing a face covering.
    2. Penalties (criminal or otherwise) cannot be imposed on any private business, establishment, corporation, non-profit corporation, or organization.
    3. The maximum penalty cannot be larger than $50 per offense.
    4. Enforcement can only be against individuals but, people who operate businesses and the businesses themselves cannot be held liable for failures of their customers to comply.
    5. The requirement cannot be enforced at any Polling Place.
    6. The requirement cannot be enforced against individuals on residential property.
    7. The requirement can be enforced against people on private property when the owner or occupant of the private party consents to enforcement. Such businesses, etc. can be required to post a reasonable public notice stating whether they consent to enforcement or does not consent to enforcement on its property.
  3. Local governments imposing a face covering requirement must warn noncompliant individuals about the health risks of not wearing a face covering prior to issuing a citation and shall make good faith efforts to distribute free masks to those who cannot afford a mask. If an individual is found in violation and cannot afford a mask, the local government must provide them a mask at the local government’s expense.
  4. Local governments have the authority to control the terms of entry onto property owned or leased by the local government regardless of whether the Threshold Requirement is met or not.

Other Provisions Specific to Governments (see pages 37-41 of the Order)

Although it is vital that Local Government entities acquaint themselves with the complete substance of the order, some of the highlights for local governments are as follows:

  1. The Order includes language providing that non-citizen legal residents can apply for temporary 120-day driver’s permits or identification cards “if they have a valid Georgia license or ID that expired on March 14, 2020 or later”. It can also be requested by those who “have a pending application for an extension of legal residence” with the federal government. They can also request additional 120-day permits if they have already been granted one previously. (See p. 40-41)
  2. The requirement under Code Section 16-11-129 that renewals of weapons carry licenses and renewal licenses must be applied for within thirty (30) days after they expire is suspended for weapons carry licenses and renewal licenses which expire during the current Public Health State of Emergency. (See p.40).
  3. The Order includes language providing that municipalities must continue to abide by their obligations to conduct public auctions through the statutory levy processes and otherwise enforce writs of fieri facias. (p. 41)
  4. Other than orders issued pursuant to the authority of Code Section 38-3-60 et seq. (Judicial Emergencies), local ordinances or resolutions requiring people to wear face coverings, masks, face shields, or any other Personal Protective Equipment while in places of public accommodation or on public property are suspended to the extent that they are more restrictive than this Order, or “any such law, order, ordinance, rule, or regulation expressly permitted” by the Order. (See p. 38)
  5. For the purposes of Code Section 48-5-311(e)(6A), "in-person" appearances before county boards of equalization may occur via remote communications. This provision does not abrogate the requirement that county boards of equalization comply with the Georgia Open Meetings Act. Further, decisions of county boards of equalization may be transmitted electronically if all parties consent at the time of the hearing. (See p. 37).
  6. That any purported requirement under the laws of this state requiring original signatures and raised corporate seals related to construction surety bonds required various statutes and commercial surety bonds required or permitted under numerous other statutes are suspended for the limited purpose of providing that public procurement officers shall accept electronic signatures and electronic corporate seals as provided by the provisions of law and any construction surety bond or commercial surety bond may be executed electronically if all the following requirements are met:
    1. The document is notarized pursuant to the requirements of Executive Order 04.09.20.01; and
    2. If requested by the procurement officer, the original shall be provided within seven (7) business days. (See p. 37)
  7. After providing reasonable notice and at least two citations for violations of O.C.G.A. §38-3-7, any Local government law enforcement officer is authorized to mandate the closure of any business, establishment, or corporation for failure to comply with the provisions of the Order for a period not to extend beyond the term of the Order.  (See p. 48)
  8. Violation of the order is defined as a misdemeanor under O.C.G.A. §38-3-7. (See p. 48)

Summary of Key Points

General Highlights

  1. The Order combines the restaurant and bar requirements to hold both types of establishments to the same standards.
  2. The Order streamlines suggestions and requirements for Critical Infrastructure and Non-Critical Infrastructure organizations. E.g. requirements for Restaurants regarding teleworking, staggard shifts, the use of virtual conferencing technology, and the requirement to train all workers on the importance of hand washing, have been removed
  3. The Order purports to suspend any state, county, or municipal law, order, ordinance, rule, or regulation that requires persons to wear face coverings, masks, face shields, or any other Personal Protective Equipment while in places of public accommodation or on public property except as specifically allowed in the Order itself (See p.38).
  4. Through March 31, 2021, 2021, the shelter in place will continue for those defined by the CDC as being high risk or suffering from a severe illness (see list on p. 12-13 of the order).
    1. Those who continue to shelter in place can leave for the same reasons as before – to get food, medical assistance, outdoor exercise, etc.
  5. Through March 31, 2021, 2021 - Everyone (everywhere) must practice social distancing procedures as well as sanitation methods as prescribed by the CDC, and refrain from gathering as defined by the Order.
  6. Everyone is strongly encouraged to wear a face mask when outside of their homes (except for when eating, drinking, or exercising outdoors).
  7. The Order does not affect or alter court ordered visitation of minor children.
  8. The Order expires March 31, 2021, 2021 at 11:59 P.M.

Critical and Non-Critical Infrastructure:

  1. Critical Infrastructuremost of the same provisions as were previously ordered apply, however requirements regarding the implementation of teleworking, staggard shifts, and the enforcement of handwashing have been removed.– See pages 16-17 of the Order.
  2. Non-Critical Infrastructure most of the same provisions as were previously ordered apply, however requirements regarding the implementation of teleworking, staggard shifts, the increase in physical space between workers and patrons, and the enforcement of handwashing have been removed.– Further the requirement that entities that engage in volunteering must follow Post-Exposure Quarantine Protocols has been removed.- see pages 17-18 of the Order.

Specific Businesses (which may also be critical or non-critical above)

Restaurants, and Bars, dining Rooms, banquet facilities, private event facilities, and private reception venues where food is served

May offer dine-in service only provided strict provisions are followed. Restaurants allowing dine-in service:

  1. SHALL implement the 16 measures of the Order intended to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. (See pp.14-15).
  2. Some, but not all, of the significant measures are:
    1. Require Workers to wear face coverings while interacting with patrons.
    2. Cleaning and checking restrooms regularly
    3. Post signage at entrances that no one with symptoms of Covid-19 may enter.
    4. Use technological solutions where possible to reduce person-to-person interaction.
  3. These requirements do not apply to dine-in services at hospitals, healthcare facilities, nursing homes, or other long-term care facilities.
  4. The Order combines the restaurant and bar requirements to hold both types of establishments to the same standards.

Food Establishments (grocery stores, convenience stores)

Have measures they must implement to the maximum extent practicable – Notable measures include:

  1. The measures applying the grocery stores include only 8 provisions (see page 18).
  2. Enacting policies and procedures for social distancing – Plexiglass at registers; decals on floors; one-way aisles;
  3. Providing personal protective equipment for workers;
  4. Encouraging patrons to wear face coverings;
  5. The requirement that Food Establishments reduce store hours to allow for increased cleaning has been removed.
  6. Guidance on cleaning schedules has been amended.
  7. The requirement that restrooms be checked and cleaned regularly has been removed.

Gyms and Fitness Centers

In addition to the other measures applicable above (those in non-critical infrastructure) Gyms and Fitness Centers must implement 16 measures if they wish to reopen – See page 19 of the Order.  This includes a requirement that signage must state that patrons may not enter if they have been exposed to Covid-19 and have not completed the “Post-Exposure Quarantine Protocol”. It appears that pools, basketball courts, tanning beds can be used, as long as there is no congregating and social distancing is enforced. Hot tubs, saunas, and steam rooms can open. Group classes can be offered as long as participants stay at least 10 feet from one another and don’t congregate. Child-care services can be provided, subject to rules relating to child-care facilities. The requirement that patrons may not share equipment without it first being cleaned between uses has been removed.

Beauty Salons, Barbers, Body Art Studios, Massage Therapists etc.

Must implement (in addition to the non-critical infrastructure requirements) – the 10 mitigating measures found on page 20 of the Order. Notable measures are: not allowing anyone symptomatic to enter, allow one patron per service provider at the time (parent may enter with child); stagger work schedules so that no more than 50% of service providers are present at the same time; workstations should be more than 10 feet apart; sanitize chairs, etc., between appointments. The rule that disposable materials and supplies must be used as much as practicable has been removed.

Theaters and Cinemas

Must implement the list of requirements for the “non-critical” list and implement additional measures found on pages 20-21 of the Order.  Language about the checking and regular cleaning of restrooms has been removed.

Bowling Alleys

Must implement non-critical list and implement additional specific measures found on page 21 of the Order.  If they have a food service area – they must adhere to the measures required for dine-in restaurants. Must sanitize equipment, balls, seats, devices between use. Playgrounds can be open. Language about the sanitization of playgrounds has been removed. Language regarding the staggering of the use of bowling lanes has been removed.

Bars

See section on Restaurants, and Bars. The Order combines the restaurant and bar requirements to hold both types of establishments to the same standards.

Waterparks and Amusement Rides

See pp. 21 – 24

  1. Such locations must display signage, ground markers and provide training that proactively encourages Social Distancing. This includes a requirement that signage must state that patrons may not enter if they have been exposed to Covid-19 and have not completed the “Post-Exposure Quarantine Protocol”.
  2. The requirements:
    1. For open-air rides where patrons are seated in cars, such as bumper cars, sky lifts, classic Ferris wheels, swing rides, and similar types of rides and attractions, only allowing persons in the same party to be seated together in each car;
    2. For open-air rides where patrons are seated in an interspersed manner, such as carousels and similar types of rides and attractions, seating patrons so that there is at least six (6) feet between persons not in the same party;        
    3. For closed car rides, such as monorails, gondola-style Ferris wheels, and similar types of rides and attractions, only allowing persons in the same party to be seated together in each car or unit.
  3. Guidance on increasing physical space between patrons and Workers has been removed.
  4. Live Performance Venues at Amusement Parks may be open. (Requirements are listed in detail at Section IX.)

Outdoor Workers

People who work outdoors without regular contact with other people, such as delivery services, contractors, landscape businesses, and agricultural industry services, only need to Socially Distance “as necessary and practicable” (p. 24).

Volunteer Firefighters

Language that had removed the requirement of volunteer firefighters to attend a certain number of in-person drills and meetings per calendar year expired at the end of 2020 and has not been extended by this Order into 2021.

Healthcare Providers 

Are regulated on pages 24-30 of the Order.

Language is included in this section lifting limitations on vaccines that nurses and pharmacists may administer.

This section includes language regarding the Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists.

This Section provides a list of 16 protocols that Long-Term Care Facilities must follow, and provides for the ability of the Department of Public Health to assume management of any Long-Term Care Facilities that fail to follow the protocols. This Section also makes provisions allowing the National Guard to assist in the enforcement of such provisions.

This Section requires that Workers follow the “Post-Exposure Quarantine Protocol”.

This Section contains language regarding the lifting of limitations on the numbers of pharmacy interns permitted, provision permitting licenses dentists to administer Covid-19 vaccinations, and the provision of scoliosis screenings by county boards of education.

Education and Children

(Child Care Providers and Summer Camps) – (see pages 30-36 of the Order)

Schools are required to follow the 11 measures laid out on page 31 which include, amongst other measures, reducing class sizes or moving classes to larger spaces as practicable. Schools are not required to comply with the ban on Gatherings.

  1. The prohibition on child-care facilities transporting children except from their residence to the facility has been lifted.
  2. The requirement that students should be discouraged from using one other’s phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment, has been removed.
  3. Child-care facilities must implement the non-critical infrastructure measures – and the 10 specific measures found on pages 33-34 of the Order. 
    1. Screen children for fever/illness.
    2. Prohibit entry if ill.
    3. Provide meals in classrooms rather than one large room.
    4. Restrict family member’s access to the building – either the main entry door only or the door to the classroom, as is practical.
    5. Frequently clean touched surfaces.
    6. Use washable toys to the extent practical.
    7. Each child’s bedding must be kept separate and washed weekly – or before it is used on another child.
    8. Certain cleaning requirements have been amended.
  4. The Order establishes 27 rules for Camps (pp. 35-36) in addition to the applicable requirements for non-critical infrastructure.
  5. A Camper or Worker at a Camp with known exposure to COVID-19 shall not be allowed access to any Camp including any facilities or activities, until they have completed the Post-Exposure Quarantine Protocol.
  6. The Order states that “[t]o the extent that any provision of Section VII of this Order, titled "Education & Children," directly conflicts with any provision of Section VIII of this Order, titled "Governments," the provision in Section VII shall control.”
  7. Any Camper or Worker at the Camp with known exposure to Covid-19 must complete the “Post-Exposure Quarantine Protocol” before returning to the Camp.

The Order includes 2021 high school graduates, home study graduates, and GED recipients in previously ordered HOPE and Zell Miller Scholarship testing requirement modifications.

Governments

See pages 37-41

  1. The Order includes language providing that municipalities must continue to abide by their obligations to conduct public auctions through the statutory levy processes and otherwise enforce writs of fieri facias. (p. 41)
  2. Other than orders issued pursuant to the authority of Code Section 38-3-60 et seq. (Judicial Emergencies), local ordinances or resolutions requiring people to wear face coverings, masks, face shields, or any other Personal Protective Equipment while in places of public accommodation or on public property are suspended to the extent that they are more restrictive than this Executive Order unless specifically allowed in the Order. (See p.37).
  3. The Order includes language providing that non-citizen legal residents can apply for temporary 120-day driver’s permits or identification cards “if they have a valid Georgia license or ID that expired on March 14, 2020 or later”. It can also be requested by those who “have a pending application for an extension of legal residence” with the federal government. They can also request additional 120-day permits if they have already been granted one previously. (See p. 41)
  4. Applications for renewals of such weapons carry licenses and renewal licenses will be considered to be for a renewal license if the holder of the weapons carry license or renewal license applies within 120 days after the expiration date on the license. (See p.40).
  5. For the purposes of Code Section 48-5-311(e)(6A), "in-person" appearances before county boards of equalization may occur via remote communications. This provision shall be implemented consistent with Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. r. 560-11-12-.02, which requires hearings before county boards of equalization to "only be as formal as is necessary to preserve order and be compatible with the principles of justice." This provision does not abrogate the requirement that county boards of equalization comply with the Georgia Open Meetings Act. Further, decisions of county boards of equalization may be transmitted electronically if all parties consent at the time of the hearing.
  6. Can enact ordinances for emergency management purposes and to supplement the carrying out of the Order – but cannot be more or less restrictive unless specifically provided for in the Order. “More or less restrictive” is not defined in the Order.
  7. The Order provides “[t]hat any purported requirement under the laws of this state requiring original signatures and raised corporate seals related to construction surety bonds required under Code Sections 13-10-40- 65, 32-2-70, 36-91-1, 36-91-2, 36-91-50 and 36-91-70-93 and commercial surety bonds required or permitted under numerous other statutes are suspended for the limited purpose of providing that public procurement officers shall accept electronic signatures and electronic corporate seals as provided by the provisions of Code Sections 10-12-2 et seq. and 33-24-14 and any construction surety bond or commercial surety bond may be executed electronically if all the following requirements are met:
    1. The document is notarized pursuant to the requirements of Executive Order 04.09.20.01; and
    2. If requested by the procurement officer, the original shall be provided within seven (7) business days.

Sports & Live Performance Venues

See pp. 41-46

The key points of this section are as follows:

  1. Live Performance Venues may host events provided the requirements of Section IX are followed.
  2. Drive-in performances are not subject to these requirements.
  3. Signage must state that patrons may not enter if they have been exposed to Covid-19 and have not completed the “Post-Exposure Quarantine Protocol”.
  4. That in addition to the applicable requirements above for non­critical Infrastructure Live Performance Venues must follow extra measures which are determined based on a tiered classification. Live Performance Venues tiers are based upon the fire code capacity of the venue. Tier I shall include venues that can host 999 or fewer persons. Tier II shall include venues that can host between 1,000 and 4,999 persons. Tier III shall include venues that can host 5,000 or more persons. The calculation of the total number of persons shall include all persons, including Workers, that are present in a Live Performance Venue.
  5. The Section then lists detailed requirements for each tier classification.
  6. Professional sports will be required to follow the guidelines of their leagues, college and high school sports will be required to follow the guidelines of their conference or association, and amateur sports will be required to follow the guidelines of non-Critical Infrastructure organizations.
  7. The requirement that all restrooms be cleaned and checked regularly has been removed.

Conventions

The key points of this section (pp. 46-48) are as follows:

  1. Conventions may be held provided they conform to the requirements of Section X.
  2. In addition to the applicable requirements above for non­critical Infrastructure, Conventions operating during the effective dates of the Order shall implement twenty-one (21) additional measures including, but not limited to:
    1. Signage must state that patrons may not enter if they have been exposed to Covid-19 and have not completed the “Post-Exposure Quarantine Protocol”.
    2. Require all staff who have regular contact with patrons to wear a face covering.
    3. Requiring all dining facilities to follow the criteria for restaurant dine-in services set forth in Section IV of this Executive Order concerning "Restaurants".
    4. Guidance on cleaning schedules has been amended.

Enforcement

See p. 48

  1. Any law enforcement officer may, after providing reasonable notice and at least TWO citations for violations of O.C.G.A. § 38-3-7 – may be authorized to mandate the closure of any business, establishment, corporation for failure to comply with the provisions of the Order. 
  2. Violation of the Order is a misdemeanor under O.C.G.A. § 38-3-7.
  3. No Judicial Order is affected by the Executive Order.