Enforcing Violations of Governor Kemp's Executive Order 07.15.01.20

Municipalities are strongly encouraged to enforce the provisions of Governor Kemp’s Executive Order 07.15.01.20 (the “EO”). This document has been created to provide municipalities a list of violations of the EO in a format that enables municipalities to consider appropriate enforcement measures. The list of violations of the EO is not meant to be an exhaustive list but is meant to capture a large number of possible offenses.

Municipal Authority to Enforce the EO

O.C.G.A. §38-3-4 provides “law enforcement authorities of … the political subdivisions [the power to] enforce the orders, rules, and regulations” issued by the Governor under an emergency declaration. The EO states that the provisions of O.C.G.A. §38-3-4 remain in effect and that all law enforcement has the ability to enforce his EO (p.40). This serves as a restatement of law rather than an action of the Governor because the Governor, even with emergency powers, does not have the ability to suspend local enforcement ability under O.C.G.A. §38-3-4. Under O.C.G.A. §38-3-51(d), the Governor only may suspend regulatory statutes prescribing the procedures for conduct of state business.

Penalty Attached to Violations

O.C.G.A. §38-3-7 states that any person who violates the EO “shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.” Additionally, the Governor, in the EO has stated that “any law enforcement officer, after providing reasonable notice and issuing at least two citations for violations of Code Section 38-3-7, is authorized to mandate the closure of any business, establishment, corporation, non-profit corporation, or organization not in compliance with” the EO for a period not to extend beyond the duration of the EO (p.40).

Developing Enforcement Strategies

When developing and implementing an enforcement strategy, the city should consult with law enforcement, public health officials, the prosecuting attorney, the city attorney, and business and community leaders and strive for the following goals: 1) education and voluntary cooperation by every violator; 2) clear communication to the public of which activities are misdemeanor violations of the EO that may result in warnings, and, if continued, fines or incarceration; 3) establishment of community buy-in for “neighborhood watch” style reporting, enforcement and assistance with communications, especially in communities that have expressed concerns about interactions with police; 4) development of clear guidelines for determining the types of violations members of the public should report to a dedicated hotline; 5) use of contact-free and socially distanced methods of interaction whenever possible, including photography, video recording, and communicating by phone; 6) enforcement protocols designed to avoid use of force and infringement on constitutional rights of free speech and freedom of assembly; and 7) documentation of enforcement efforts and demographic information related to stops and arrests.[1]

List of Violations in the EO

(1) Failure to Social Distance

The EO requires residents and visitors of the State to practice social distancing (p.2). Social distancing is defined as “keeping space between yourself and other people outside of your home or place of residence” and further means that “[p]eople practicing social distancing should stay at least six (6) feet from other people, avoid assembling in groups, avoid crowded places, and avoid large crowds.” (p.5). Exception: Violations of social distancing rules do not apply to “cohabitating persons, family units, or roommates residing together in private homes, whether inside or outside of their homes or place of residence.” (p.5). This requirement effectively prohibits a person from doing the following: going to a restaurant, bar, movie theater, or any other location and sitting next to anyone other than individuals with whom the person is living (“cohabitants”), playing contact sports (soccer, basketball, football, rugby, ultimate frisbee) with anyone other than cohabitants, and being in any kind of crowd. Note: different rules may apply with respect to professional, college, high school or amateur sports teams.

(2) Failure to Refrain from Gathering

The EO requires residents and visitors of the State to refrain from gathering (p.2). Additionally, businesses, establishments, corporations, non-profit corporations, organizations, or county or municipal governments are prohibited from allowing gatherings. (p.3) Gathering is defined as having “more than fifty (50) persons physically present at a Single Location, if to be present, persons are required to stand or to be seated within six (6) feet of any other person. (p.4). A “single location” means “a space where all persons gathered cannot maintain at least six (6) feet of distance between themselves and any other person.” (p.5). Exception: Groups of more than fifty (50) people are allowed if “their grouping is transitory or incidental, or if their grouping is the result of being spread across more than one Single Location.” (p.4). Additionally, “Critical Infrastructure” are allowed to allow for gatherings of persons. (p.3). Critical infrastructure is defined to include those workers, businesses, establishments, corporations, non-profit corporations, and organizations identified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in the Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers and it also includes “suppliers which provide essential goods and services to the Critical Infrastructure workforce as well as entities that provide legal services, home hospice, and non-profit corporations or non-profit organizations that offer food distribution or other health or mental health services. (p.3). Schools are also exempt from the prohibition on Gatherings (p.24). Otherwise, the EO requires that residents and visitors “practice Social Distancing and refrain from Gathering.” For example, it is permissible to host a wedding and invite 100 individuals as long as it is possible for the venue to enable six feet of distance between all individuals. It is permissible to attend the wedding, because it is not a Gathering. However, individual guests who sit next to individuals other than cohabitants, or dance with non-cohabitants, violate the social distancing rule and could be warned and issued citations.

(3) Failure to Practice Sanitation in Accordance with the Guidelines Published by the CDC

The EO requires all residents and visitors to practice sanitation in accordance with the guidelines published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (p.2). The CDC has published sanitation guidelines for handwashing and home cleaning and disinfection, and has provided specific rules for sanitation while an individual with COVID-19 is isolated in the home. The CDC states that hands should be washed for 20 seconds (or cleaned with hand sanitizer containing 60% or more alcohol) before eating and after touching common surfaces. Accordingly, it would violate this requirement of the EO for an individual to pay for a sandwich by entering a credit card number onto a touch pad and then immediately eating the sandwich without first sanitizing his or her hands. Sanitation is not defined and the EO does not specifically reference which guidelines published by the CDC are applicable.

(4) Failure to Shelter-in-Place for Certain Higher Risk Persons

The EO states that the following residents and visitors of the State are required to shelter in place within their homes or places of residence except when performing certain specified activities: people who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility, including inpatient hospice, assisted living communities, personal care homes, intermediate care homes, community living arrangements, and community integration homes; people who have chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, severe heart disease; people who are immunocompromised; people with class III or severe obesity; and people diagnosed with diabetes or liver disease, and people with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis.  (p.6) Exception: People who are required to shelter in place are allowed to conduct or participate in essential services (defined in the EO as basically getting supplies, engaging in essential activities for the health and safety of family or household members, seeking medical, behavioral health, or emergency services, activities to preserve the health and welfare of persons, transport, visitation, and regular care of family members and persons dependent on the services of others, children obtaining public internet access for educational purposes, and outdoor exercise so long as social distancing is followed (p.3-4)), performing necessary travel (defined in the EO as travel is required to conduct or participate in essential services or critical infrastructure (p.5)), engaging in gainful employment or the performance of, or travel to and from the performance of, minimum necessary activities needed to maintain the value of a business, establishment, corporation, non-profit corporation, or organization not classified as critical infrastructure, or working in or for critical infrastructure and being actively engaged in the performance of, or travel to and from, their respective employment. (p.6).

(5) Receiving Visitors when Required to Shelter-in-Place

The EO prohibits people who are required to shelter-in-place from receiving visitors. (p.7). Exception: People who are required to shelter in place can receive visitors providing medical, behavioral health, or emergency services or medical supplies, visitors providing support to conduct activities of daily living, visitors providing food, supplies, equipment needed in the home, and visitors received in end-of-life circumstances. (p.7). There is also an exception for emergencies. (p.7). For example, a resident with diabetes is prohibited from inviting friends to her home to play cards or watch a movie.

(6) Restaurants and Dining Services

The following is an inexhaustive list of acts or omissions relating to restaurant and dining establishments that would be violations of the EO:

  1. Failure to screen and evaluate workers who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19. (p.8). “Symptoms of COVID-19” means symptoms identified by the CDC as symptoms of COVID-19. (p.5).
  2. Failure to require workers who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 to not report to work and failure to follow CDC guidelines on sending workers home. (p.8).
  3. Failure to train workers on the importance and expectation of handwashing, the use of hand sanitizers, and failure to provide clear instruction to avoid touching hands to the face. (p.8)
  4. Failure to require workers to wear face coverings when interacting with patrons. (p.8)
  5. Failure to clean and clean the facility and to clean high use areas between diners. (p.9-10)
  6. Failure to use rolled silverware and failure to eliminate table presets. (p.9)
  7. Failure to redesign seating arrangements to ensure at least six (6) feet of separation from seating to seating or failure to use physical barriers to separate groups of seating within six (6) feet. (p.10)
  8. Failure to provide hand sanitizer for use by patrons. (p.10)
  9. Failure to prevent patrons from congregating on restaurant premises or the curtilage. (p.10)
  10. Failure to mark ingress/egress to and from restrooms. (p.10)

Exception: None of the violations for restaurants and dining services apply to dine in services in hospitals, health care facilities, nursing homes, or other long-term care facilities.

(7) Businesses, Establishments, Corporations, Non-Profit Corporations, or Organizations which are not Critical Infrastructure

The following is an inexhaustive list of acts or omissions relating to non-Critical Infrastructure that would be violations of the EO:

  1. Failure to screen and evaluate workers who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19. (p.12)
  2. Failure to post a sign on the front of the facility stating that individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 are not allowed to enter the store. (p.12)
  3. Failure to require workers who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 to not report to work. (p.12)
  4. Failure to prohibit gatherings during hours of operation. (p.12)
  5. Failure to place notices and encourage hand hygiene at the entrance to the facility. (p.12)
  6. Failure of retailers and service providers to provide for alternative points of sale outside of buildings, including curbside pick-up, or delivery if an alternative point of sale is allowed under Georgia law. (p.12)
  7. Failure to have sales registers at least six (6) feet apart for retailers and service providers. (p.13)

(8) Gyms and Fitness Centers

The following is an inexhaustive list of acts or omissions relating to gyms and fitness centers that would be violations of the EO:

  1. Failure to place signage at any entrance to instruct patrons that they cannot enter if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, have symptoms of COVID-19, or have had contact with a person that has or is suspected of having COVID-19. (p.14)
  2. Failure to place signage at any entrance and throughout the facility on enhanced sanitation procedures, social distancing requirements, and other instructions as applicable. (p.14)
  3. Failure to screen patrons at the entrance if workers are present at the gym or fitness center. (p.14)
  4. Failure to use contactless forms of patron check-in. (p.14)
  5. Failure to limit use of cardio machines to every other machine or distancing machines to maintain acceptable social distancing. (p.15)
  6. Failure to enforce social distancing. (p.15)
  7. Failure to require no less than ten (10) feet of distance between patrons participating in group fitness classes. (p.15)

(9) Body Art, Barber Shops, Estheticians, Hair Designers, Massage Therapists, and Tanning Facilities

The following is an inexhaustive list of acts or omissions relating to body art, barber shop, estheticians, hair designer, massage and tanning establishments that would be violations of the EO:

  1. Failure to post signs at the entrances and at eye-level at each workstation stating that any patron with symptoms of COVID-19 must reschedule. (p.15)
  2. Failure to limit patrons to one patron per service provider in the business at any one time. (p.15)
  3. Failure to space workstations more than ten (10) feet apart or utilize ever other workstation. (p.16)
  4. Failure to require workers to wear masks or face covering while providing service to a patron. (p.16)
  5. Failure to sanitize all equipment, chairs, and tables used by workers and patrons between each client visit. (p.16)

(10) Indoor Movie Theaters and Cinemas

The following is in inexhaustive list of acts or omissions relating to indoor movie theaters and cinemas that would be violations of the EO:

  1. Failure to require each party of patrons to be seated at least six (6) feet apart. (p.16)
  2. Failure to utilize at least one usher in each theater room before and at some point during each showing to ensure proper social distancing protocol is enforced. (p.16)
  3. Failure to sanitize seats, armrests, handrails, doors, doorknobs, and other door handles between each showing. (p.16)

(11) Bowling Alleys

The following is an inexhaustive list of acts or omissions relating to  bowling alleys that would be violations of the EO:1

  1. Failure to place signage at entrances and throughout the facility to instruct patrons on social distancing requirements and other instructions and limitations. (p.17)
  2. Failure to provide hand sanitizer stations throughout the facility. (p.17)
  3. Failure to stagger the use of lanes so that only every other lane or evert third lane is in use. (p.17)
  4. Failure to sanitize score keeping machines, ball returns, tables, seats, and other fixtures before and after each party. (p.17)
  5. Failure to sanitize bowling balls and shoes before and after each party. (p.17)

(12) Bars

The following is an inexhaustive list of acts or omissions relating to  bars that would be violations of the EO:

  1. Failure to screen and evaluate workers who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19. (p.17).
  2. Failure to require workers who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 to not report to work and failure to follow CDC guidelines on sending workers home. (p.17-18).
  3. Failure to limit the total number of persons inside the bar to fifty (50) persons or thirty-five percent (35%) of total listed fire capacity occupancy, whichever is greater. (p.18)
  4. Failure to require all workers to wear face coverings at all times. (p.18)
  5. Failure to properly clean and sanitize the location. (p.18)
  6. Failure to ensure at least six (6) feet of separation from seating to seating or utilizing physical barriers to separate groups. (p.19)
  7. Failure to limit party size at table to no more than six (6) patrons. (p.19)
  8. Failure to post signage at entrances that no one with symptoms of COVID-19 shall enter the bar. (p.19)
  9. Failure to provide hand sanitizer to patrons. (p.19)
  10. Failure to prevent patrons from congregating on bar premises or the curtilage and failing to design a process to ensure patron separation. (p.19)
  11. Failure to mark entrance and exit to and from restrooms. (p,19)
  12. Failing to set up hand sanitizing stations at every entrance. (p.20)
  13. Failing to sanitize the bar at least twice daily before opening and after closing. (p.20)

(13) Amusement Rides, Traveling Carnivals, Water Parks, Circuses, and Other Temporary Amusement Rides

The following is an inexhaustive list of acts or omissions relating to amusement rides, traveling carnivals, water parks, circuses and similar establishments that would be violations of the EO:
  1. Failure to enforce social distancing rules at all times. (p.20)
  2. Failure to display signage and ground markers encouraging social distancing. (p.20)
  3. Failure to provide online training programs for workers instructing them on how to keep themselves and patrons safe. (p.20)
  4. Failure to provide workers with personal protective equipment. (p.20)
  5. Failure to require workers to wear face coverings at all times. (p.20)
  6. Failure to communicate new operations procedures to guests prior to arrival, on the attraction’s website, and through social media. (p.20)
  7. Failing to establish uniform entrances where patrons are screened. (p.21)
  8. Failure to prohibit entrance to patrons exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. (p.21)
  9. Failure to place signage at any entrance to instruct patrons that they cannot enter if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, have symptoms of COVID-19, or had contact with a person who is suspected to have COVID-19 within the past fourteen (14) days. (p.21)
  10. Failure to place acrylic or other barriers or screens, including safety goggles, in areas where there is frequent patron-worker contact. (p.21)
  11. Failure to place signs that remind patrons to adhere to CDC guidelines. (p.21)
  12. Failure to reduce the number of patrons per ride in accordance with the rules of the EO. (p.21)
  13. Failure to reconfigure queues and locker arrangements to allow for social distancing. (p.22)

(14) Childcare Facilities The following is an inexhaustive list of acts or omissions relating to childcare facilities that would be violations of the EO:

  1. Failure to screen and evaluate children prior to them entering the classroom for symptoms of COVID-19. (p.25)
  2. Failure to prohibit children from entering the classroom if they exhibit symptoms of COVID-19. (p.25)
  3. Failure to prohibit unnecessary visitors. (p.25)
  4. Failure to restrict family access in accordance with the EO. (p.25)
  5. Failure to follow cleaning protocols in the EO. (p.25-26)

(15) Summer Camps The following is an inexhaustive list of acts or omissions relating to summer camps that would be violations of the EO:

  1. Failure to place signage at any entrance to instruct campers that they cannot enter if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, have symptoms of COVID-19, or had contact with a person who is suspected to have COVID-19 within the past fourteen (14) days. (p.26)
  2. Failure to place signage at any entrance and throughout the facility to instruct campers of the enhanced sanitation procedures, social distancing requirements, and other instructions, limitations as applicable in the EO. (p.26)
  3. Failure to screen campers at drop-off and failure to prevent campers from entering who have symptoms of COVID-19. (p.26)
  4. Failure to prohibit workers or campers who have stayed home sick from entering the camp. (p.27)
  5. Failure to require parents dropping-off and picking-up campers to remain in their vehicles. (p.27)
  6. Failure to provide an isolation area for sick workers or campers. (p.27)

(16) Live Performance Venues The following is an inexhaustive list of acts or omissions relating to live performance venues that would be violations of the EO:

  1. Failure to place signage at any entrance to instruct patrons and performers that they cannot enter if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, have symptoms of COVID-19, or had contact with a person who is suspected to have COVID-19 within the past fourteen (14) days. (p.33)
  2. Failure to place signage at any entrance and throughout the facility providing information regarding enhanced sanitation procedures, social distancing requirements, and other instructions, limitations as applicable in the EO. (p.34)
  3. Failure to require workers who have frequent contact with patrons to wear face coverings. (p.34)
  4. Failure to require patrons exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 to immediately leave or to be isolated. (p.34)

(17) Conventions The following is an inexhaustive list of acts or omissions relating to Conventions that would be violations of the EO:

  1. Failure to place signage at any entrance to instruct patrons that they cannot enter if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, have symptoms of COVID-19, or had contact with a person who is suspected to have COVID-19 within the past fourteen (14) days. (p.38)
  2. Failure to place signage at any entrance and throughout the facility to instruct patrons of the enhanced sanitation procedures, social distancing requirements, and other instructions, limitations as applicable in the EO. (p.38)
  3. Failure to require workers who have frequent contact with patrons to wear face coverings. (p.38)
  4. Failure to require all individuals exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 to immediately leave or to be isolated. (p.38)
  5. Failure to provide an isolation area or areas for individuals experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 that are unable to immediately leave the convention. (p. 38)
  6. Failure to provide hand sanitizer for use by all individuals present (p. 39)
  7. Failure to require workers to clean and sanitize bathrooms and all frequently touched surfaces regularly throughout times when patrons are present at the facility in additional to the regular cleaning schedule. (p. 40)

Possible Enforcement Options

The City should determine enforcement options and enforcement priority after consultation with the with law enforcement, public health officials, the prosecuting attorney, the city attorney, and business and community leaders and after consideration of available resources and the goals identified in Developing Enforcement Strategies above. Barriers to enforcement and the pros and cons of different methods should be identified.

The following are examples of different methods a city might use to enforce the EO. These are NOT recommendations and have NOT been developed with input of any sample stakeholders.  

  • Create an interactive phone line and/or online report form for social distancing violations that are enforcement priorities (system does not solicit information about specific individuals, is developed after input by business community leaders, community leaders representing workers, and input from city attorney about privacy and open records requirements);
  • Create an interactive phone line and/or report form for business violations (form captures only violations identified as enforcement priorities, does not solicit information about specific individuals, and is developed after input by business community leaders, community leaders representing workers, and input from city attorney about privacy and open records requirements);
  • Require businesses to publish all requirements outside entry and in breakroom along with online report form and phone line to report specific violations and, in online form, to provide documentation;
  • Require business owner to complete online affirmation of compliance with each requirement every two weeks and investigate businesses that have not completed affirmation for four weeks;
  • Report all businesses that fail to complete the affirmation to the business association or business community point person involved in development of the enforcement strategy
  • Refer (or grant access to) initial online and phone line reports to such business association or business community point person;
  • Require owners of restaurants, bars, and movie theaters to post signs notifying patrons that police officers may require proof of cohabitation for individuals seated next to each other and may issue warnings and citations if such proof is not provided;
  • Regularly patrol bars, restaurants, and other indoor venues where individuals are likely to violate social distancing requirements;;
  • Periodically enter reported locations and randomly assigned locations to inquire about cohabitation status, issue warnings and citations;
  • Require owners of parks and recreation locations to post signs that proof of cohabitation must be provided for anyone playing contact sports and failure to provide such proof will result in warnings and, if not followed, citations; 
  • Regularly patrol locations where individuals play contact sports;
  • Develop and provide training on responding to reports and complaints;
  • Develop engagement guidelines and provide training on engagement guidelines for law enforcement. For example: Engage in conversation, ask for name, educate on the rule, educate about the public health reason for rule, advise of the penalty, ask for compliance. If compliance refused, ask for documentation of cohabitation. If refused, write warning and place near individual, then photograph individual. Share photograph with businesses and community leaders who may have influence. If able to identify and can determine person has had repeated warnings, issue citation using misdemeanor citation form. Use of force is prohibited except for self-defense.

Note: The City may wish to include associated Social Distancing and Refrain from Gathering enforcement options specific to the different types of establishments listed above.


[1] The NYU School of Law has published a helpful guide on enforcement of stay-at-home and social distancing orders.