DeKalb County is the latest jurisdiction to weigh in with a stay-at-home emergency order — including broad exceptions for exercise and certain kinds of business — during the coronavirus pandemic. The order takes effect at 9 p.m. on March 28 and continues until further notice.

The order from DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond echoes many provisions of previous orders from Gov. Brian Kemp and the cities of Atlanta, Brookhaven and Dunwoody, but is not identical. The order says it applies to all individual residents, while only “strongly encouraging” non-essential businesses to cease most operations, and that visitors from elsewhere are “encouraged” to follow its rules.

County spokesperson could not immediately clarify exactly how the order applies legally in cities, such as Brookhaven, with existing and somewhat different orders. The order says it “reaffirms, recognizes and reinforces” such prior orders, while it also “invites” cities to adopt its language for uniformity.

The order says DeKalb recognizes it lack the personnel or resources to enforce the provisions. It authorizes the DeKalb County Police Department and other county department to support the order “through information delivery and education of individuals” about its terms and the threat of COVID-19.

Key provisions of DeKalb’s order include:

  •  Residents must stay at home except to provide or receive “essential services,” engage in “essential activities” or to work for “essential” business or government functions. When engaging in essential activities, people must remain at least 6 feet away from each other.
  • Anyone with symptoms of the COVID-19 coronavirus diseases are prohibited from “entering public buildings, restaurants, shops, public transportation facilities and all other areas where the public ingresses or egresses [enters or exits].”
  • All public and private gatherings of any number of people outside a single household or living unit are prohibited, except for essential activities and business.
  • People who are “medically fragile” or sick are “strongly encouraged” to stay at home except for necessary medical care.
  • People who are homeless are exempt, but are “strongly urged” to find shelter.
  • All business that are not “essential” are “strongly encourag[ed]” to cease operations except the basic minimum that does not involve public interaction, such as security or payroll processing. Even then, people inside the business must remain at least 6 feet away from each other “to the extent possible.”

“Essential activities” include:

  • “Activities or tasks essential to an individual or family member’s health or safety,” including that of pets.
  • To obtain or deliver “necessary services and supplies.”
  • “Outdoor activity.”
  • Working for or getting products or services from essential businesses.
  • Caring for a person who is medically fragile or a family member or pet in another household.
  • Performing or accessing essential government functions.

“Essential businesses” include:

  • All healthcare operations, which do not include gyms or fitness centers.
  • Home-based care for seniors, adults and children.
  • Veterinary operations.
  • Federal, state, county and municipal services.
  • Utilities.
  • Banks and credit unions.
  • Essential infrastructure, which includes telecommunications, airports, airlines, and such transportation as MARTA, buses, Lyft, Uber and taxis.
  • Delivery services.
  • Essential manufacturing and construction to “maintain public health, safety and welfare.”
  • Businesses selling food.
  • Businesses that sell work-from-home supplies.
  • Pharmacies.
  • Professional services, such as law, accounting and real estate, “when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities.”
  • Repair services for businesses and homes.
  • Trash and recycling services.
  • Mail and shipping services.
  • Lodging, including hotels, motels and conference centers.
  • Laundromats and dry cleaning.
  • Janitorial services.
  • Providers of basic necessities to “economically disadvantaged populations.”
  • Auto repair and gas stations.
  • Warehouse distribution and fulfillment.
  • Funeral homes, crematories and cemeteries.
  • Storage for essential businesses.
  • Animal shelters and animal care or management and crematories.
  • Bike shops.
  • News media.
  • Logistical and tech support.
  • Cafeterias within medical, industrial, government “or other such production facilities” that are necessary to “promoted health, welfare and vital resources.” They are “strongly encouraged” to stagger meal times, limit use for social distancing and following Centers for Disease Prevention and Control cleaning guidelines.
  • Childcare.
  • Elder care.
  • “Any service that is deemed by the chief executive officer to be essential for the protection of public health, safety and welfare.”

Update: This story has been updated with information about the order’s indefinite duration.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.