Gov. Kemp orders shelter-in-place orders, tax extensions and mandated closure of bars and nightclubs

Updated: Mar 24

Tax filing deadline is now July 15, bars and nightclubs are closed until April 6, gatherings of more than 10 people are banned, and at-risk individuals are ordered to "shelter-in-place

Georgia State has now mirrored the Federal government in pushing back the tax filing deadline

“Through the Department of Revenue, I have decided to extend Georgia’s tax filing deadline to July 15, 2020 in accordance with the new federal tax filing deadline,” Governor Brian Kemp said in a press conference this afternoon, March 23.

Kemp also issued an order mandating the closure of bars and nightclubs throughout the sate, effective tomorrow, March 24, at noon. The order came as part of Kemp’s latest efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. In addition to the regulations regarding those two specific businesses, Kemp banned any gathering of 10 or more people, unless the people can be kept a minimum of six feet apart.

Kemp’s order granted the Georgia Department of Public Health the authority to close any business for non-compliance with the order, which is effective through April 6.

The order also included a “Shelter-In-Place” directive for high-risk individuals.

"Today I will issue an executive order requiring the Department of Public Health to require certain individuals with an increased risk of complications from COVID-19 to isolate, quarantine, or shelter in place," he stated. "At minimum, this order for isolation, quarantine, or shelter in place covers those who live in a long-term care facility, have chronic lung disease, are undergoing cancer treatment, have a positive COVID-19 test, are suspected to have COVID-19 because of their symptoms and exposure, or have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19. "The Department of Public Health will promulgate rules and regulations to implement this order and define how these individuals can access essential services, travel, and receive visitors in end-of-life circumstances.”

“Currently, we have 772 cases in sixty-seven counties. We are starting to see the impact of coronavirus on medically fragile populations in long-term care facilities,” Kemp stated, "The Department of Public Health’s state lab has now conducted 1,245 COVID-19 tests, and commercial labs have conducted 3,824 COVID-19 tests. We now have twenty-three test sites for specific populations at the following locations: Cartersville, Rome, Dalton, Woodstock, Gainesville, Marietta, Atlanta, Morrow, Lawrenceville, Stone Mountain, Newnan, Dublin, Warner Robins, Augusta, Columbus, Valdosta, Tifton, Albany, Douglas, Statesboro, Brunswick, Savannah, and Athens.”

Testing is limited to “elderly Georgians, members of the law enforcement community, first responders, long-term care facility residents and staff, and healthcare workers,” he said, advising that patients must have a referral from a medical provider in order to be tested at any of the above sites.

Other issues addressed by Kemp during today’s press conference include:

Insurance: "To support Georgians’ ability to receive timely, effective care, on March 9th, Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John King issued a directive to insurance companies to ensure telemedicine and telehealth options be covered at the same rate as regular, in-person care,” Kemp said.

Hospital Supplies: "We have shipped out 532,170 N95 masks, 65,640 face shields, 640,600 surgical masks, 46,740 surgical gowns, 635,000 gloves, and sixty-four pallets of general hospital supplies. According to U.S. Health and Human Services, Georgia will receive a second delivery of PPE within the next five days. GEMA has placed an order for respirators, which are scheduled to be delivered to the state’s warehouse this Friday,” Kemp said.

Healthcare Facility Capacity: "Several hospitals are facing potential bed space shortages and supply issues. To address these problems, we have identified multiple options to bolster capacity…At the Georgia Public Safety Training Center, we have completed construction of an isolation zone to hold as many as twenty emergency housing units, and the campus offers as many as 242 dorm rooms to use for patient surge...Right now, the state is exploring projects with the Army Corps of Engineers for arena space and large buildings, and we are considering the conversion of vacant and underutilized properties of all types for hospital space. .As part of this initiative, we urge healthcare providers to consider canceling elective procedures to preserve medical supplies and free up resources, including workers and treatment space. So far, we have identified nearly 600 additional beds beyond what our hospitals currently offer, but our work is far from over."

SNAP Benefits: "State officials are working on plans to support the nutritional needs of its most vulnerable residents, allowing families who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to access the maximum benefit amount for their household in March and April. Right now, the average monthly SNAP benefit per Georgia household is $225. About $200 million in SNAP benefits is distributed to Georgians every month.

"This supplement will allow them to get the maximum benefit amount for their household size, which is $194 for a household of one, in March and April. In March and April, approximately one million Georgians who receive SNAP will get an additional $100 in nutrition benefits," he said. "This change could be a major support to senior citizens in our state, who typically receive about $15 in SNAP benefits each month. This supplement will allow them to get the maximum benefit amount for their household size, which is $194 for a household of one, in March and April.

Recent orders:

On March 12, Georgia, under Kemp’s directives implement teleworking policies that instructed all but the most critical government service employees to work from home. Visitation at many state-run health facilities, correctional facilities, and juvenile justice centers was also suspended, except in end-of-life circumstances, on March 12.

On March 14, Kemp declared a public health state of emergency , giving the Department of Public Health authority to direct specific healthcare actions and authorized the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency to coordinate with the Georgia National Guard to call up as many as 2,000 troops to assist in emergency response.

"Last Friday, I signed two additional executive orders: one authorizing nearly $20 million in emergency funding to pay for necessary medical supplies, and the other reducing regulations - especially in the healthcare context - to address COVID-19,” Kemp said during today’s address. “All licensed Georgia pharmacists are now permitted to dispense a ninety-day supply of a prescription drug if a patient has no remaining refills and the pharmacist cannot get in contact with the prescribing provider. Pharmacists may also dispense early refills for prescription drugs. However, these authorizations do not apply to Schedule II controlled substances.”

In addition, Kemp’s actions last week lifted requirements for in-person corporate shareholder meetings, “allowed Georgians to utilize private providers to comply with state minimum standard codes for building inspections or similar structures, and allowed the Department of Community Health to waive regulations which would otherwise hinder our capabilities in responding to this crisis”

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