With the coronavirus pandemic causing shutdownsacross the nation, various areas have alreadyordered their residents to “shelter-in-place.”

Shelter in place order: What it means for you and local businesses

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, many cities around the metro Atlanta area and beyond have issued shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders.

The orders have been issued in places including Sandy Springs and Cobb County as well as Athens-Clarke County. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has also signed a mandatory 14-day stay-at-home order for the city. Fulton County residents could face jail or fines for violating a shelter-in-place order.

» RELATED: Coronavirus in Georgia: COVID-19 Dashboard

Now Gov. Brian Kemp has issued a statewide shelter-in-place order.

But what do such orders mean?

What is shelter in place?

Shelter in place means that residents in a given community must remain at home, CNN reported. There are exceptions, however, for “essential” activities. It also does not carry the same restrictions as the order would under a natural disaster or an active shooting.

What are considered “essential” businesses?

According to Business Insider, cities and states can decide what they consider essential and non-essential businesses. There is, however, guidance from the Department of Homeland Security on what are essential businesses — that is, businesses in which essential critical infrastructure workers are involved. 

» RELATED: Questions and answers about Georgia’s statewide shelter-in-place restrictions

They are as  follows:

  • Financial
  • Healthcare and public health
  • Water
  • Dams
  • Transportation systems
  • Chemical 
  • Energy
  • Defense industrial base
  • Information technology
  • Food and agriculture 
  • Government facilities
  • Critical planning
  • Nuclear reactors, materials and waste
  • Commercial facilities
  • Emergency services
  • Communications

» RELATED: Defining what’s an ‘essential business’ is up for debate around Georgia

What is considered an “essential” activity?

The executive order signed by Bottoms lists the following as an essential activity:

  • Obtaining medical supplies or medication, going to the doctor or obtaining materials needed to work from home.
  • Obtaining necessary supplies for individuals or family members or delivering groceries or products to maintain safety and cleanliness of home.
  • Engaging in outdoor activities such as hiking , walking or running in adherence to social distancing guidelines.
  • Performing work for what’s considered essential businesses.

What is the purpose of shelter in place orders?

Current orders to shelter in place are meant to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, CNN reported. Doing so has also been coined “flatten the curve.” Since the new virus spreads from droplets when an infected person exhales, sneezes or coughs, social distancing can help limit its spread.

» RELATED: Kemp bans many gatherings, orders shelter in place for ‘medically fragile’ in Georgia

Is there a statewide shelter-in-place order in Georgia?

Although Kemp previously told the AJC there’s not a certain deadline to make such a decision, by Wednesday, April 1, he announced plans for all Georgians to shelter in place.

“I want to encourage my fellow Georgians to hang in there. I know you’re tired of this,” he said at a press conference. “But we must first overcome the obstacles in our path.”

Kemp will issue the rules Thursday and they’ll run from April 3 through April 13.

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