Yesterday, in a new executive order, Governor Brian Kemp made significant changes to the emergency order allowing Georgia to further reopen. The three changes that would have the greatest impact on churches have to do with the shelter in place order, the mandatory social distancing groups, and summer day camps.
65 and older no longer shelter in place
He said it is no longer required for all citizens 65 and older to shelter in place. Even though this requirement was in the previous executive order, those attending church 65 and older were still allowed to do so if they maintained proper social distancing such as wearing a mask, maintaining six-foot distances, and using hand sanitizer.
This restriction is now limited to only those who meet the health conditions for the medically fragile listed in the new order. Also, there are some health conditions that require the shelter-in-place order to be followed. Those can be found in the order linked at the end of this article.
Groups of 50 or more practice mandatory social distancing
The new regulation regarding group gatherings will now require those groups of more than 50 to practice mandatory social distancing. We need to be reminded that the governor never did ban church meetings. Churches were always given an exception when it came to meeting, as long as they would maintain the proper social distancing requirements.
Those requirements are still in effect and mandatory when there are more than 50 people in attendance. The group gathering restrictions started out at 10 people or more, increased to 25, and now is at 50 as the state reopens. See this Christian Index article on the governor’s original guidance for churches.
Negative COVID-19 tests required for campers and staff for overnight camps
Overnight summer camps are now going to require that campers and leaders have received a negative COVID-19 test within 12 days of the camp starting. The requirements regarding summer day camps are still applicable to churches hosting children and youth events. See this Index article for more info on camps.
Please be sure to visit gabaptist.org to find further advice and instructions on how to safely reopen church activities. Click here for the complete press release from the governor’s office identifying the sections covered in the new order. A link specifying all the details regarding the new regulations can be found here as well.
Once again, we have a lot to be thankful for in that we live in a state where the governor understands and applies the proper balance between religious freedom and public health and safety.