In the latest string of COVID-19 orders handed down by metro Atlanta mayors and local officials, the Fulton County Board of Health has commanded residents of the county to “shelter in place” at their homes, effective immediately, and until further notice. This includes the majority of city of Atlanta, which is already under a “stay-at-home” order enacted by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms last week. Some of the city’s eastern neighborhoods reside in Dekalb County.
“All residents of Fulton County are commanded to stay at their place of residence. All individuals are permitted to leave their places of residence only to provide or receive certain essential services or engage in essential activities and work for essential businesses and essential governmental functions,” a portion of the order reads.
The administrative order is signed by Dr. Sandra Elizabeth Ford, the interim district health director, and imposes a fine of up to $1,000 or up to one year in jail if violated, and prohibits private or public gatherings of any size, outside members of a single household.
People are still permitted to continue with outdoor exercise activities and walking their pets and can leave their homes for essential medical appointments, to gas up their cars, or to procure necessary food and supplies. It also allows essential businesses like grocery stores, farmers markets, hardware stores, and restaurants offering takeout and delivery to continue operating with proper social distancing measures in place. The full list of essential businesses can be found here.
This new order may put a stop to the gatherings that have been occurring over the last two sunny weekends at Atlanta’s parks and along the Beltline. The trail and city parks remain open. In a Tuesday conference call with the Atlanta City Council, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says she continues to heed the advice of local health officials and infectious disease expert Dr. Carlos del Rio when it comes to closing area parks and the Beltline.
Several council members have urged for the closure of parks and the trail in order to prevent people from gathering. Unlike, this latest order, which enact fines and possible jail time, the Atlanta “stay-at-home” order does not provide details on enforcement for violators.
In a late afternoon press conference on Wednesday, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp says he’s preparing a statewide shelter-in-place order to go into effect Friday, April 3, through at least Monday, April 13. He also closed K-12 schools in the state through the end of the semester in May. The order is expected to feature exceptions, including allowing restaurants to continue operating with takeout and delivery.
“To stop the spread, we must practice social distancing. To mitigate the risk, it is best that you stay home,” he says. According to state medical officials, Georgia could see a peak in COVID-19 cases by April 23. Kemp is advising people to continue social distancing through the end of May.
As of 12 p.m., Wednesday, April 1, there are 4,638 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Georgia, with 139 reported deaths. The next update takes place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday evening.
Update, April 1, 5:20 p.m.: This story has been updated with new information regarding the statewide shelter-in-place order to go into effect April 3.
*Please practice safe and respectful social distancing measures via CDC guidelines by maintaining a distance of at least six feet from other people, not gathering in groups, and not sitting on restaurant patios to eat. Stay home if sick.
Check the Georgia Department of Public Health website for guidance and twice-daily updates on the latest number of reported COVID-19 cases.