The announcement was made by Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan in the Senate and Ralston in the House during one of the busiest legislative days of the year. Legislation must pass at least one chamber by the 28th working day, “Crossover Day,” in order to have a significant chance of passing. Work typically lasts until midnight.
The House of Representatives suspended its page program and stopped allowing guests Wednesday. The Senate had not made any changes to operations before Thursday's announcement.
On Wednesday, Ralston urged the public not to come to the Capitol and instead watch legislative proceedings on free live streams.
Since those decisions were made, “the reports have gotten a little — well, more than a little more concerning,” Ralston said as the House gaveled in Thursday.
The coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on Wednesday, and Georgia has 31 presumed positive cases. The NBA suspended its season Wednesday night after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the virus, and the NCAA announced its men's basketball tournament would be played without fans in attendance.
House Democrats called for an early end to the session Thursday morning. Ralston, Duncan and Kemp met multiple times through the day before making the announcement Thursday afternoon.
“Our hope and prayer is that we are overreacting,” Ralston said. “I’d rather do this than underreacting.”