Q&A: What the statewide shelter-in-place order means for Alpharetta, Milton residents

Following the recently implemented shelter-in-place order, many residents have questions on what they are allowed to do during this time. (Courtesy Adobe Stock/Community Impact Newspaper)
Following the recently implemented shelter-in-place order, many residents have questions on what they are allowed to do during this time. (Courtesy Adobe Stock/Community Impact Newspaper)

Following the recently implemented shelter-in-place order, many residents have questions on what they are allowed to do during this time. (Courtesy Adobe Stock/Community Impact Newspaper)

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the extension of the shelter-in-place order from April 13 to April 30.

Starting at 6 p.m. April 6, the entire state of Georgia will be under a shelter-in-place mandate per an executive order by Gov. Brian Kemp to help prevent further spread of the coronavirus. The order will continue until 11:59 p.m. April 30.

While the Fulton County Board of Health and the city of Alpharetta both have individual shelter-in-place mandates, they both mirror Kemp's executive order.

What is a shelter-in-place order?

A shelter-in-place order is intended to reduce physical contact between residents to reduce the opportunity for the coronavirus to spread. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, said in a NPR affiliate interview March 30 that as many as 25% of COVID-19-infected people can remain asymptomatic or never show signs of symptoms and still spread the virus. While this idea has been circulated around the country as common knowledge for weeks, Redfield said it has been confirmed based on new data. Learning this information is what triggered Kemp's statewide shelter-in-place order, he said at a press conference April 1.

What businesses and professionals are required to close to the public and cease in-person operations?

According to the executive order:

  • bars;

  • nightclubs;

  • gyms;

  • fitness centers;

  • bowling alleys;

  • theaters;

  • live performance venues;

  • operators of amusement parks;

  • dine-in services at restaurants and private social clubs;

    • exceptions: takeout, curbside pickup and delivery; and dine-in services at hospitals, health care facilities, nursing homes or other long-term care facilities;

  • estheticians (i.e. waxing, threading, eyelash extensions, cosmetic treatments);

  • hair designers;

  • body art studios;

  • beauty shops and salons, including home beauty shops and salons;

  • barbershops, including home barber shops;

  • cosmetology schools;

  • hair design schools;

  • barbering schools;

  • esthetics schools;

  • nail care schools; and

  • licensed massage therapists.

All other entities may continue to operate subject to specific restrictions depending on if the business is considered "critical infrastructure."

What is "critical infrastructure?"

This term refers to a business, establishment, corporation, nonprofit corporation or organization defined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as "essential critical infrastructure workforce" as well as to suppliers, which provide essential goods and services for the critical infrastructure workforce. Critical infrastructure also includes legal service providers, home hospice care and nonprofit corporations or nonprofit organizations that offer food distribution or other health or mental health services.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the following 16 sectors are considered critical infrastructure:

  • health care and public health sector;

  • emergency services sector;

  • food and agriculture sector;

  • energy sector;

  • water and wastewater systems sector;

  • transportation systems sector;

  • government facilities sector;

  • defense industrial base sector;

  • financial services sector;

  • communications sector;

  • chemical sector;

  • critical manufacturing sector;

  • dams sector;

  • information technology sector;

  • commercial facilities sector; and

  • nuclear reactors, materials and waste sector.

A full list of the jobs within each sector is listed on the department's website.

For which activities can I leave my home?

The order states that residents can leave to get supplies or services for their household, engage in activities essential for the health and safety of the household and engage in outdoor exercise activities so long as proper social distancing guidelines are met. Taking trips to the grocery store, doctor's office, pharmacy or to pickup takeout meals are all acceptable and reasonable reasons to leave the house, according to the order. Residents are also still allowed to go outside to exercise or leave the home in an emergency.

"The key takeaway is that you need to stay in your house as much as possible, but we recognize there are circumstances when you will need to leave," the order states. "Keep those circumstances rare, consolidate trips as much as possible and use takeout, curbside pickup and delivery services whenever possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19."

Will my trash still get picked up?

Sanitation services and public works are considered critical infrastructure, as are police, fire and emergency medical services.

Will my mail still get delivered?

According to the U.S. Postal Service website, mail delivery is considered an essential service, as it can provide critical items, such as medication and Social Security checks. Service will continue.

What other local services will remain open during the order?

Other business and government services classified as essential or critical include child care services for employees who still have to go to work; in-home care and caregiving services; trade service providers, such as plumbers and electricians; hotel and lodging facilities that practice social distancing standards; and news media. A full list can be found on the U.S. Department of Labor's website.

How will local schools be impacted by this?

All K-12 public schools, including the Fulton County Schools system, will be closed for in-person instruction for the remainder of the school year.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's list of critical infrastructure sectors and the jobs in each sector is below.

To see Kemp's executive order handout, see below.

By Kara McIntyre
Kara started with Community Impact Newspaper as the summer intern for the south Houston office in June 2018 after graduating with a bachelor's degree in mass communication from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. She became the reporter for north Houston's Tomball/Magnolia edition in September 2018, moving to Alpharetta in January 2020 after a promotion to be the editor of the Alpharetta/Milton edition, which is Community Impact's first market in Georgia.