Commissioner declare emergency and order shutdown


ELLIJAY, Ga. – A state of emergency has been declared for Gilmer County by the Board of Commissioners, immediately followed by a “shelter-in-place” order and businesses shut down.

Through discussions and deliberations on Tuesday, March 24, the order for citizens to shelter-in-place will proceed from 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday morning, March 25, through 11:59 p.m. Tuesday night, April 7, due to the Coronavirus.

The most important details of this order come through the ordered shutdown of non-essential businesses. The order covers all “unincorporated parts of the county.” However, Board of Commissioners Chairman Charlie Paris did state in Tuesday’s meeting that he had spoken with the mayors of Ellijay and East Ellijay and felt that they were supportive of this action.

While citizens are ordered to take shelter at their own places of residence, the resolution clearly states, “When people need to leave their places of residence, whether to obtain or perform vital services, or to otherwise facilitate authorized activities necessary for continuity of social and commercial life, the should at all times reasonably possible comply with Social Distancing Requirements.”

Gilmer Sheriff Stacy Nicholson confirmed that deputies will be informing citizens about the order who are loitering in places unreasonably or blatantly disregarding the order. The order urges people at high risk of severe illness or people who are sick to not leave their residences except to seek medical care.

The other half of the shutdown comes through non-essential businesses. All businesses with a facility in the county, except essential businesses, are required to cease all activities at facilities located within the unincorporated areas of GIlmer except “Minimum Basic Operations.” The board listed in the order’s definitions, “Essential businesses means:

  • Healthcare Operations and Essential Infrastructure;
  • Grocery stores, certified farmers’ markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores, and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of canned food, dry goods, consumer products (such as cleaning and personal care products). This includes stores that sell groceries and also sell other nongrocery products, and products necessary to maintining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences;
  • Food cultivation, including farming, livestock, and fishing;
  • Businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals;
  • Newspapers, televisions, radio, and other media services;
  • Gas stations and auto-supply, auto-repair, and related facilities;
  • Banks and related financial institutions;
  • Hardware stores;
  • Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, Essential Activities, and Essential Businesses;
  • Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes;
  • Educational Institutions – including private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities – for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions, provided that social distancing of six-feet per person is maintained to the greatest extent possible;
  • Laundromats, dry cleaners, and laundry service providers;
  • Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or carry out. Farm wineries shall be allowed to sale packaged wine at curbside. Schools and other entities that typically provide free food services to students or members of the public may continue to do so under this Order on the condition that the food is provided to students or members of the public on a pick-up and take-away basis only. Schools and other entities that provide food services under this exemption shall not permit the food to be eaten at the site where it is provided, or at any other gathering site;
  • Businesses that supply products need for people to work from home;
  • Businesses or manufacturers that supply other essential businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate;
    Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods, or services directly to residences;
  • Airlines, taxis, and other private transportation providers providing transportation services necessary for Essential Activities and other purposes expressly authorized in this Order;
  • Home-based care for seniors, adults, or children;
  • Residential Facilities including hotels, motels, shared rental units and similar facilities and shelters for seniors, adults, and children, except for short-term cabin rentals (provided that current guests may complete their stay);
  • Professional services, such as legal, accounting services, real estate services, when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities;”

The board also added to the shutdown conditions for childcare facilities (stated in the order) and added all businesses not identified but are listed on the Department of Homeland Security’s website as Essential Critical Infrastructure workforce.

The Commissioners were asked by citizen Larry Lykins to understand “the magnitude” of what they were proposing in shutting down these small businesses. He said that some of those businesses are “just not going to come back from this.

Still, others supported the decision, saying the decision was necessary and that a shut down now would be better than worse conditions and widespread sickness later.

Additionally, both Gilmer Sheriff Stacy Nicholson and Public Safety Director Keith Kucera offered their opinions saying that these hard decisions need to be made.

Despite the closure of businesses and activities, Paris did answer a question about the courthouse saying, “The courthouse cannot be closed.”

The commissioners worked over details including wineries and cabins, going back and forth on these issues and including advice from citizens and county agents. Ultimately, approving and signing the order as it stands. However, should conditions change, this order could be revisited and revised as needed.


  1. Karl Seidman March 24, 2020 at 9:16 pm

    A supermarket is probably more risky to be in than a restaurant following the 10 person maximum that was in effect.

    The commissioners are helping to ruin the local economy and probably not saving any lives.

    • Daniel March 25, 2020 at 3:24 am

      especially with the reduced hours of the stores forcing more people to be in them at the same time instead of spreading out the load, stores should be doing like what the restaurants have to do where they limit the number of people in the building at a time instead of limiting the hours they are open for.

    • Joseph Owen March 25, 2020 at 6:28 am

      Are you crazy, in a grocery store you can choose to maintain the 6ft from others, while in a restaurant, if the workers preparing your food are infected, they could infect the food you put in your mouth. I can disinfect every item I get from the store before I bring it in my home. I can also take additional measures in a store to make sure I don’t come into contact with an infected person or item. We don’t have to eat out all the freaking time. Sit home, cook, spend time with the family, and just stop being a problem and start being part of the solution.

      • Duane Northrup March 25, 2020 at 2:15 pm

        Amen Brother !

  2. Daniel March 25, 2020 at 3:22 am

    welp i’m out of work, effectively un-employed but since i’m self employed I don’t get unemployment benefits, this crap has completely demolished my business, so this just completely screwed me, I hope every last one of these people get brought up on charges for violating peoples constitutional rights. i’m surviving off of my savings and will be until this crap is lifted and I can go find work, hopefully it gets lifted before I run out of saving and STARVE TO DEATH, since they left a provision in there for them to extend it indefinitely.

    • Kathy March 26, 2020 at 3:22 pm

      You’re shutting down small businesses but letting our hotels stay full of tourists and wander around Gilmer county at free will.

      • Debbie Osborne March 31, 2020 at 7:17 am

        I agree, shutting down cabin rental companies but allowing hotels, motels to carry on business as usual does not make sense. Also, not allowing paying guests to come directly to cabins (no contact check in) but allowing owners to come in from all over the country to stay in their cabins during this crisis is counter productive. I specifically called for clarification on this because of the influx of owners wanting to come to their cabins, many from virus “hotspots” and was told the county attorney said we could not keep owners from coming to their cabins. I don’t get it. Fannin was clear, their mandate included owners during this crisis.

    • Chuck March 26, 2020 at 5:50 pm

      Daniel…stop whining. Everyone is in the same boat as you. Obviously you have little regard for the health and well being of others…It’s do what needs to be done now. Or be stupid by doing nothing and suffer much worse later. You are an idiot.

    • Glo March 28, 2020 at 12:27 am

      Daniel–please take your blinders off and open up your heart. This is the very first time since Creation other than the flood God sent when telling Noah to build the Arc– that an experience like this has occured—Daniel this is to SAVE LIVES–FIRST AND FOREMOST– NEVER before the flood did we have a disaster to this magnitude that effected THE WHOLE WORLD– NEVER.
      THIS IS A ” PESTILENCE “… no plague or pestilence before was so quickly contagious as this one.
      God like 911 allows disasters to try to get his people to turn to HIM- SEEK HIM IN HUMILITY TURNING THEIR HEARTS TO HIM THRU “REPENTANCE ” ones who THINK they can depend in themselves in arrogance not needing God or wanting God—having false Gods- usually “themselves” PLEASE TAKE A LOOK INTO YOUR HEART AND REALIZE THEIR ARE OTHER PRECIOUS PEOPLE THAT NEED GOD AND HIS GRACE N MERCY–TRUSTING ONLY GOD TO MEET ALL THEIR NEEDS ACCORDING TO HIS RICHES N GLORY
      Daniel–thats what this truly is all reach out to Him who can help you…trusting Him n His Word..the Word became FLESH and dwelt AMONGST us- JESUS–IS CALLING YOU– COME HOME– COME HOME–CALL ON MY NAME AND I SHALL HELP YOU IN TIMES OF TROUBLE..JESUS REALLY LOVES YOU DANIEL- SO MUCH HE DIED FOR YOU….TO SAVE YOU–IF YOU BELIEVE

  3. Jerry Tuso March 25, 2020 at 8:27 am

    Seems to be some over reaction, altho seems the most cases of the virus comes from Atlanta and surrounding counties so suppose tourists, bikers and cabin renters could bring the virus here. Maybe the Commissioners are a virus in itself..Are they going ahead with trying to raise the sales tax to 8%? .

  4. Gary Engel March 25, 2020 at 10:32 am

    Why are we all treating this virus differently than the numerous other diseases we have experienced over the years? It concerns me greatly that the government can take so much control over our lives and livelihood.

    • Linda March 30, 2020 at 12:41 pm

      Gary, I will be 71 in a month and I have never seen or heard of anything like the virus we have all over the world now. It only take one person to pass it to many and you’re right Atlanta has the most, but it also has the biggest population. I live in Gilmer County and we now have one case, I do not feel it will be our last. We all need to be thanking God for what we have right now and pray we stay healthy. As far, “the Commissioners” they are doing what is best for our county, but if it were me I’d shut down the whole county. Maybe we would still have 0 cases; we have been very blessed in light of what is happening in other counties.

  5. Michelle March 25, 2020 at 11:42 am

    We are renting a cabin in this area for the weekend. Does anyone know if fishing will be available, and local bait shops will be open?

  6. James V. Kohl March 25, 2020 at 8:44 pm

    The entire country and Gilmer county are being held hostage by biologically uninformed science idiots who failed to link what is known to all serious scientists from God’s Creation of sunlight and water to light-activated microRNA biogenesis in plants and biophysically constrained Covid-19 /coronavirus pathology.

    See: Special Issue “Non-Coding RNAs in Viral Infections” (2018)

    and: “MicroRNA Signaling” View all 20 Articles”

  7. Robert March 26, 2020 at 6:09 am

    I work in a manufacturing plant that is NOT in a shelter in place county , the owner is not giving us unemployment because the plant is opened and operating , so what are my options ? travel in my car by myself to work and back home or stay home and face the possibility of losing my job ? at my age finding a new job on April 8th is not a likely scenario . I’ll do my utmost best to follow social distancing protocal along with hand washing guidelines …..but more importantly if I get covid-19 you can rest assured im not going to be using a bed in a Gilmer county hospital ….

  8. Billy March 28, 2020 at 2:08 pm

    We don’t even have a hospital. All we have is an minimum staffed emergency room.

  9. Ursa Miller March 31, 2020 at 9:15 am

    if people would employ sanitary health measures during this time like social distancing,washing your hands and and being mindful about the ones you congregate with, this issue of covid 19 would be greatly reduced. we are seeing now that estimates are being revised downward as to the actual real numbers of cases/deaths of this virus is. What is note worthy,healthy sanitation and business can coexist without choking the community and the country.

    Panic and poor choices resulting thereof will be worse than the virus long term.

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