Kemp opens bars and renews state of emergency

State & National
bars

ATLANTA, Ga – Gov. Brian Kemp decided to continue the state of emergency and stay at home order for the elderly and at-risk individuals through July 12. However, the governor also announced the reopening of bars, amusement parks, night clubs, professional sports, and overnight summer camps.

Music venues must remain closed.

Kemp issued timelines for the lifting of each restriction.

May 31 Openings

  • Overnight Summer Camps

June 1 Openings

  • Gatherings of 25 people will be allowed – if the area meets space requirements
  • Bars
  • Night Clubs
  • Professional Sports
  • Amateur Sports

June 12 Openings

  • Amusement Parks
  • Water Parks

Georgia will not mandate citizens to wear masks, but Kemp highly encourages everyone to wear masks in crowded areas and public places.

66 percent of nursing home residents have been tested for COVID-19. On June 1, the Department of Public Health will move to once-daily updates of coronavirus numbers.

City Council Approves COVID-19 State of Emergency Ordinance

City Council, News
infection, National Guard

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.

Gilmer Officials delve deeper into the shutdown

News
Second Amendment, Officials

ELLIJAY, GA. – Yesterday’s Declaration of Emergency from the Gilmer County Board of Commissioners and the response from officials has been hotly debated and concerns are still high over what it means for Gilmer County.

Today, Gilmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson and Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris are speaking out to explain a little more on the shutdown and what the next steps are for citizens and businesses in the county.

Sheriff Stacy Nicholson said this does not mean Gilmer is becoming a “police state.” While he said most of the shutdown is focused on businesses, he did add that the focus is to slow large interactions of people to slow the spread of the virus. He reiterated this again stressing that people can go out if the have to saying, “You can go to the grocery store. You can still go to the gas station and get gas. If you work for or own a business that is deemed essential, you can still go to work.”

Focusing instead on strongly encouraging people to follow suit with the Shelter-In-Place order, this entire effort is to promote the issue of awareness and support for isolation to kill the virus.

Nicholson also noted that the order for businesses is being enforced through the Officials of the Emergency Management Agency (EMA) as they continue spreading the information. Nicholson spoke about the county taking a stance of asking for compliance right now to encourage businesses and citizens to comply. Only in extreme circumstances, he said, would they resort to anything like citations or licensing revocations.

This was also noted in the meeting as the Board said they could eventually reach a level of revoking business licenses for all businesses not following the order’s closures or restrictions on those still open.

The last major point he stressed today was to say that this isn’t like snow days. It hasn’t taken a full hold yet. But it very well could. Nicholson said he does not intend to operate as an occupying force. Instead he wants the Sheriff’s Office to run like a county police force and support the community in these hard times.

It was a sentiment echoed by Chairman Charlie Paris who said the reason he felt the need for the Declaration of Emergency and the order to Shelter-In-Place is to separate the people as much as possible. The order is in place for two weeks to “not necessarily break the cycle of infection, but slow it down.”

Paris also acknowledge that the order is a drastic measure and not something he really wanted to do. However, the need for action was clear. This was also pointed out in the meeting when public safety authorities spoke saying that they understand no one wants to be the person to incorporate such measures, but serious action has to be taken to address the issue.

Paris also noted that hospitals, EMA Officials, and medical teams in Gilmer are considering all possible answers to the health needs. Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp has already instituted allowances for specific people with previous medical licenses and some recent graduates to practice medicine during this time as well as some Certificate of Need restrictions. Locally, these steps include talks about using rooms from Gilmer’s old hospital facility and possibly bedding patients there should a need arise.

Paris said that this is a hard time, but called it a time of sacrifice for the county in an effort to slow this infection down to get a handle on it. He also said that the neighboring counties need to join the effort to really make the shutdown effective and expedite a return to normal life much faster.

Commissioner declare emergency and order shutdown

News
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.

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