Eating establishments must close dining areas, may offer takeout and drive-thru service
Under a local emergency order signed today by Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners Chairman Charlotte Nash, gyms, fitness centers, fitness studios, theaters, live performance venues, bowling alleys, arcades and other similar establishments within unincorporated Gwinnett County are mandated to close temporarily.
The order also requires that restaurants, food courts, brewpubs, breweries and other eating establishments within unincorporated Gwinnett County cease offering dine-in and outdoor/patio service. These establishments may continue to offer food to customers through delivery, takeout and/or drive-thru service.
Exceptions include cafeterias or on-site dining services in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other similar facilities within unincorporated Gwinnett County following state and federal public health guidelines.
In addition, employers and businesses that remain open for use by the public must take the necessary steps to restrict in person contact and maintain a distance of 6 feet between individuals.
The order authorizes the use of personnel and resources to assist in enforcement.
Nash said this latest move is necessary as confirmed COVID-19 cases in Gwinnett County and in the state of Georgia continue to rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates there is evidence of widespread community transmission in Georgia.
"We appreciate the additional steps put in place by Gov. Brian Kemp this week and have incorporated those into Gwinnett's order. In addition, we are responding to the specific situation in Gwinnett by temporarily closing certain establishments that tend to involve the public gathering in groups. For other businesses and organizations that are not being closed with this order, it is imperative that social distancing requirements are followed," said Nash. "To the general public, I urge you to stay at home other than for absolutely essential purposes. We will monitor voluntary compliance with this request as we consider additional restrictions."
Kelly Kelkenberg, president of the Gwinnett Municipal Association, said that Gwinnett's 16 cities are acting together with Gwinnett County to align all emergency declarations. Kelkenberg, who began his term as GwMA president in January, has 25 years of experience with FEMA and U.S. Air Force disaster relief missions.
"The cities are working to mesh the directives of Gov. Kemp, guidance from the Georgia Public Health Department and Gwinnett County's decisions for COVID-19 emergency planning," said Kelkenberg, who also serves as mayor pro-tem for the city of Duluth. "Every city is unique, however, we are united in the effort to assure Gwinnett residents of consistency in how we are approaching social distancing, businesses, law enforcement, emergency services and continued delivery of essential services during this critical time."
Nash added, "The district commissioners and I are grateful for the level of cooperation among the cities and with the County. We all recognize that working together is more important than ever as we deal with the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19. The consistency achieved through our united action is significant for the good of all Gwinnett."
The local order, which comes in response to Gov. Kemp's directive to help slow the spread of COVID-19, contains mandates found in an executive order issued by the governor Monday. Among other provisions, the local order also requires the isolation, quarantine or shelter in place for certain populations, including all persons ordered by the public health department to do so; persons who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility residents; persons who have chronic lung disease; and persons who are currently undergoing cancer treatment. Further, all bars are ordered to cease operation, and no business, establishment, corporation, nonprofit, corporation or organization may allow more than 10 persons to be gathered at a single location if such gathering requires persons to stand or to be seated within 6 feet of any other person.
This order falls under a declaration of local emergency that activates certain emergency powers in order to allow Gwinnett County government to quickly respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The emergency declaration provides the ability to exercise powers deemed necessary to promote and secure the safety and protection of residents during an emergency.
This local emergency order is effective March 25, 2020, at noon through April 6, 2020, at noon.