City Council Approves COVID-19 State of Emergency Ordinance

City Council, News
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ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Ellijay City Council voted unanimously to approve their COVID-19 State of Emergency Ordinance during the virtual meeting held on Wednesday, March 25, 2019, following the rest of the local governments in taking action against the spread of the virus.

The ordinance will be in effect for 14 days following the passing, though it also gives the mayor and the city council ability to extend the ordinance if need be, for a period not to exceed an additional 14 days.

Among other measures, no gathering of 10 or more people shall take place on city property while the ordinance is in effect, and restaurants may only service food via delivery, drive-thru or takeout.

Additionally, certain business’ such as gyms, fitness centers, pools, social clubs, amusement facilities, bowling alleys, pool halls, theaters, massage parlors, nail salons, etc. will be forced to close during this time.

The entirety of the ordinance may be viewed below:

A DECLARATION OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY ARISING BECAUSE OF COVID-19; AN ORDINANCE TAKING IMMEDIATE EMERGENCY MEASURES

WHEREAS, the President of the United States declared a National Public Health Emergency on March 13, 2020; and

WHEREAS, the Governor of the State of Georgia declared a State Public Health Emergency on March 14, 2020 and urged”local officials to do what’s in the best interests of their communities to keep people safe and stop the spread of coronavirus’ on March 19, 2020; and

WHEREAS, the World Health Organization has declared Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) a world health emergency and a pandemic; and

WHEREAS, the number of confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 is escalating rapidly, internationally, nationally, and within our Public Health District; and

WHEREAS, based upon the experience of other local governments in Georgia, a growing number of other cases are likely to occur; and

WHEREAS, on March 16, 2020, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the President of the United States stated that any gathering of over 10 people should be discontinued or prohibited, and

WHEREAS, on March 23, 2020, Governor Kemp announced that “certain individuals with an increased risk of complications from COVID-19 to isolate, quarantine, or shelter in place,” covering those who “live in long-term care facilities, have chronic lung disease, are undergoing cancer treatment, have a positive COVID-19 test, are suspected to have COVID-19 because of their symptoms or exposure, or have been exposed to someone who has СOVID-19”, and that the Department of Public Health would institute rules and regulations to implement such measures;

WHEREAS, on March 23, 2020, Governor Kemp additionally announced measures to “close all bars and nightclubs and …ban all gatherings of ten or more people” unless they can assure spacing for at least six (6) feet apart between people at all times beginning at noon on March 24, 2020 and lasting until noon on April 6, 2020; and

WHEREAS, public health experts, including those at the CDC and the National Institutes of Health (NIH),have advised that individuals infected with COVID-19 are contagious even while experiencing minor or no symptoms and implored leaders to take immediate action to prevent further community spread of COVID-19; and

WHEREAS, preventing and slowing community spread of COVID-19 provides health systems additional time to obtain personal protective equipment necessary to protect health care workers and medical equipment necessary to treat COVID-19, and is therefore vital to the health of the nation;

WHEREAS, in the judgment of the Mayor and Council of the City of Ellijay, there exist emergency circumstances located within its jurisdiction requiring extraordinary and immediate response for the protection of the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of the community, the state, and the nation; and

WHEREAS, it is essential for the governing authority of the City to act immediately in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and to prevent or minimize sickness, injury, or death, to people and damage to property resulting from this public health crisis; and

WHEREAS, O.C.G.A. $38-3-28 provides the political subdivisions of this state with the authority to make, amend, and rescind such orders, rules, and regulations as may be necessary for emergency management purposes to supplement rules and regulations promulgated by the Governor during a State of Emergency; and

WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court has previously held that “[u]pon the principle of self-defense, of paramount necessity, a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members”; and

WHEREAS, the Charter of the City of Ellijay provides the governing authority of the city with the authority to take actions deemed necessary to deal with such an emergency for the protection of the safety, health, and well-being of the citizens of the city; and

NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY DECLARED that a local state of emergency exists within the City and shall continue until the conditions requiring this declaration are abated.

THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED AND ORDAINED BY THE AUTHORITY OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF ELLIJAY AS FOLLOWS:

Section 1. Findings of Fact
For purposes of describing the circumstances which warrant the adoption of an emergency ordinance, the governing authority of the city hereby adopts and make the findings included in the “WHEREAS” clauses as findings of fact,

Section 2. Declaration of Public Health State of Emergency
The City Council hereby declares a public health state of emergency within the city because of the proliferation of COVID-19 in the United States and the State of Georgia, which will remain in force and effect for fourteen (14) days from the date hereof. In the event it becomes necessary to extend the public health state of emergency with the city due to the continued proliferation of COVID-19, the City Council hereby declares that the Mayor, upon obtaining advice and consent of the majority of the City Council, may unilaterally extend this emergency ordinance for an additional period not to exceed fourteen (14) days.

Section 3. Public Gatherings on City Property
For the duration of the declared emergency, there shall be no public gatherings on any property owned or controlled by the City. To avoid confusion, the following definitions shall apply under this Section: a “public gathering” shall mean the organized gathering or assembly of ten (10) or morepersons at a specific location; “property owned or controlled by the City” shall include any park, public square, public space, playground, recreational area, or similar place of public gathering, but nothing herein shall prohibit individuals or families from using sidewalks or designated pedestrian areas of parks for walking or other exercise if they are not participating in an organized gathering.

Section 4. Utility Services
RESERVED

Section 5. Classification of City Services
For the duration of the declared emergency, the Mayor shall be vested with the following discretion and authority, to wit:

(a) To categorize City services as either “required” or “discretionary,” and to
periodically review and modify such categories.

(b) To assign specific employees to required or discretionary services, and to
periodically review and modify such assignments. (c) To use his or her discretion to permit employees to telework.

(c) To temporarily suspend the provision of discretionary services and to direct
employees who provide discretionary services not to report to work until such time as the service suspension is lifted or until such time as the Mayor redirects
the employee to other services.

(d) To contract for and expend non-budgeted sums and services, as may in his or her
discretion be required to meet the demands upon government and services of the
City for the duration of the declared emergency, including therein authority to spend such sums from the reserves of the City. Any such non-budgeted
expenditures shall be reported to the governing authority of the City.

(e) To maintain, to the best of the ability of the resources of the City, the provision
of essential services, which shall include, but not be limited to, public safety,
public works, healthcare, and building permits.

Section 6. Tolling of Deadlines
Any deadlines for the purchasing or obtaining by persons or businesses of occupation tax certificates, permits or similar civil approvals mandated by the City Code shall be tolled for the duration of the emergency as established herein, and for 15 days thereafter. Such persons or businesses shall obtain necessary permissions required by law but deadlines set by the City Code are toiled for the duration of the emergency as established herein, and for 15 days thereafter.

Section 7. Eating Establishments
Restaurants and other eating and dining establishments where food is served must cease offering dine-in services but may continue preparing and offering food to customers via delivery, drive-through or take-out services. Patrons, employees and contractors of the establishments must maintain at least six (6) feet of personal distance between themselves and others. If a restaurant is licensed to sell beer and wine for on-premises consumption, such restaurant, during the effective dates of this ordinance only, shall be authorized to sell unopened bottles or cans of beer or wine for take-out consumption off-premises;

Section 8. Closure of Certain Businesses
Gyms, fitness centers, pools, social clubs, amusement facilities, bowling alleys, pool halls, theaters, massage parlors, nail salons, and any other similar facility, any facility used for an activity that involves prolonged physical proximity ofindividuals, and any facility usedfor entertainment, social, grooming, or general health and wellbeing purposes,must close and remain closed for the duration of this emergency.

Section 9. Personal Distance
All other establishments not covered in Section 7 of this Ordinance such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and other businesses which remain open during the emergency inust post signage on entrance doors informing consumers to maintain at least six (6) feet of personal distance between themselves and others and shall not allow more than ten (10) people into such establishment at any one time if such social distancing cannot be maintained.

Section 10. Gatherings
All public and private gatherings of more than ten (10) people occurring outside of a household or living unit are prohibited. Nothing in this ordinance, however, prohibits the gathering of individuals for the purposes of carrying on business certified as “essential” by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency pursuant to O.C.G.A. $ 38-3-58 or designated by the Governor as “critical infrastructure” or the provision of medical or health services.

Section 11. Emergency Interim Successor to Mayor
The governing authority desires to make certain that the chain of authority within city management is clear. If the Mayor is unable to perform his or her duties, then the individual designated by the Mayor as the emergency interim successor pursuant to O.C.G.A. $ 38-3-50 shall assume the duties of the Mayor. This is the Mayor Pro Tem. Should the Mayor Pro Tem be unable to perform those duties, the longest serving council member shall then assume the duties of the Mayor.

Section 12. Curfew
RESERVED.

Section 13. Procurement
The governing authority hereby suspends the bid and competitive portions of the City’s Procurement Policy or ordinances and authorize the Mayor to utilize the single-source policy and to require departments to provide a written justification for the procurement during the effective dates of this Resolution and/or utilize any emergency procurement provisions contained. City officials shall continue to seek the best prices during the state of emergency.

Section 14.
All ordinances or parts of ordinances in conflict with the provisions of this Declaration are hereby suspended during the effective dates of this Declaration (or any extension thereof) and the terms and provisions of this Declaration shall prevail.

This Ordinance after adoption by the Council and upon approval by the Mayor shall become effective immediately.

ORDAINED AND RESOLVED, this 25th day of March, 2020.

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