Kemp Extends Statewide Shelter-In-Place Order. Does Not Close State Parks or Beaches

The statewide shelter-in-place order has been pushed back until the end of the month, following the Wednesday press briefing given by Governor Brian Kemp.

He announced Wednesday afternoon, April 8, that the statewide shelter-in-place order would be pushed back until April 30. Earlier Wednesday, Gov. Kemp extended the public health state of emergency through May 13. It was scheduled to expire on Monday, April 13.

“All of the provisions of the statewide shelter in place order will remain in effect,” Kemp said.

Gov. went on to state that he signed an executive order mandating more aggressive measures be taken at all assisted living and nursing homes. 

These measures include more sanitary measures to be taken by workers and health screenings for workers. Visitors and non-essential workers can now only visit in end of life circumstances. The order also cancels group activities and requires in-room dining services.

This comes after reports of 10 people dying from COVID-19 complications in a nursing home in Athens.

Gov. Kemp continues, saying he signed an executive order suspending short term vacation rentals across the state which goes into place Thursday, April 9. 

The order does not include hotels, motels, extended stays, or long term rentals, state parks or beaches. Kemp states he will not shut them down unless "something gets out of control." 

This comes after commissioners from 12 local counties sent him a letter pleading that these areas be closed, claiming people from high-risk areas are visiting and not abiding by the shelter in place or social distancing orders.

The letter reads: “Thank you for your leadership during this unprecedented and difficult time for Georgia. We are grateful for the recent actions you have taken to help keep us all safe.

As County Commissioners in North Georgia, we are writing to request that you issue an Executive Order closing down all of the state parks located in our area for the duration of the Statewide Shelter in Place Order. While we are blessed to live in such a beautiful and abundant area of Georgia that hosts so many wonderful state parks, our constituents are highly concerned about the increased traffic to our area during the Statewide Shelter in Place Order.

A significant portion of this increased traffic is coming from COVID-19 hot spots such as Atlanta or from areas outside our state.

During normal times, we are very thankful for the many Georgians and other tourists who visit and explore our area and frequent our state parks. As public awareness of the COVID-19 pandemic has increased, there has been a recent surge in visitors to our area. It appears that these nonresidents believe our area is a safe haven because of its rural nature. To the contrary, the influx of people into our communities has had a staggering detrimental effect on our resources. Our communities simply do not have enough hospital beds or medical personnel to care for the inflated population.

Similarly, there is not enough food, dry goods, fuel, and other supplies to adequately provide for the numbers we are experiencing.

Many County Commissioners in our area are actively discouraging any and all non-residents from visiting our area until the pandemic has resolved itself. The United States Forest Service has taken steps to discourage the influx of people by closing down all of its "sited" campgrounds, but the continued operation of the state parks is stressing our community’s resources in a substantial manner.

On behalf of the many citizens that live in North Georgia who entrust us as County Commissioners to represent their interests, we respectfully ask you to close all of the state parks located in our area immediately.”

Kemp also stated he’s calling on more National Guard Troops, 1,000 more, to aid with the COVID-19 response.

“By extending the public health state of emergency, we can ensure Georgians have access to every available state resource during this crisis,” Kemp said.