Sheriff Griffin urges residents to continue safe practices

Published 3:37 pm Tuesday, April 21, 2020

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Despite Gov. Kemp announcing some Georgia businesses were allowed to reopen later this week, Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin reminded residents that there were still guidelines in place that need to be followed in order to limit the spread of Coronavirus.

Georgia is still under a shelter-in-place order through Thursday, April 30. At this time, Griffin said he does not see that date being extended. However, the state’s public health emergency is set to expire on May 13, and Griffin would like to see Decatur County residents continue to practice safe habits through to that date, if not longer.

In particular, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are still at the highest risk of catching the respiratory virus.

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Griffin said essential employees will need to continue going to work. He asked people to only travel when necessary, and the most important thing to do is do not gather in groups of 10 or more people.

“And definitely stay six feet apart in any group,” added Griffin.

Griffin said he believed Decatur County residents in general were doing a good job of following these guidelines.

“What I am doing, and what I am recommending, is go to the grocery store or pharmacy or any other place that they need to go as few times as possible,” said Griffin. “Wear your mask. If you see a crowd at any of these places, avoid it until you can go when it is less crowded.”

How long does the executive order last?

The shelter-in-place order took effect at 6 p.m. Friday, April 3, and expires at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, April 30.

How does the order apply to individuals and families?

All Georgia residents and visitors are required to shelter in place in their residences. “Shelter in place” means remaining in their residences and taking every possible precaution to limit social interaction to prevent the spread or infection of COVID-19.

Are there exceptions?

Yes. A Georgia resident or visitor is not required to shelter in place if they are:

Engaging in essential services.

Working in critical infrastructure.

Engaging in minimum basic operations.

Performing necessary travel.

What does this order mean for church  services and funeral services?

No business, establishment, for-profit or nonprofit corporation, organization or county or municipal government is allowed to have more than 10 people gathering in a single location unless there is at least six feet between each person at all times. This rule applies to church services and funeral services.

Can I go to state parks or play sports?

Yes. You can visit state parks or play sports outside, including golf, subject to restrictions. Gatherings of more than 10 people are banned unless there is at least six feet between each person at all times. If people congregate in certain areas of a state park or golf course, for example, law enforcement will warn them to disband. If they fail to comply, they may face criminal charges.

What happens if I violate the governor’s executive order?

If you violate any terms of the order, you are committing a misdemeanor, which is a crime in the state of Georgia. For example, if you are not sheltering in place and none of the four exceptions for essential services, minimum basic operations, critical infrastructure or necessary travel applies to your activities, you will receive a warning from law enforcement and risk facing criminal charges if you fail to comply.

How does this order apply to local governments?

No county or municipal to government is allowed to have more than 10 people gathered in a single location unless there is at least six feet between each person at all times. The governor’s order supersedes all local ordinances to the extent they conflict and states that no ordinance can be more restrictive or less restrictive.