Barrow County has issued a stay-at-home order for the unincorporated areas of the county in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, March 31, and runs through April 13.
The order, issued Monday, March 30, can be found here.
Residents are ordered to stay at home except when conducting activities that are "essential to their own health and safety and that of family/household members, partners, significant others and pets." Those activities include obtaining food, medication and medical supplies household consumer supplies and health care services, or caring for a family member or pet in another household. People may also engage in outdoor activity such as walking, hiking, running or biking as long as they comply with "social distancing" requirements of maintaining at least six feet of space. People who work to provide essential services or essential products may leave their places of residence to carry out those activities.
Non-essential businesses are ordered to close but still may carry out "minimum basic operations."
"Essential" businesses are encouraged to remain open while complying with the social distancing requirements. Those businesses include health care businesses; grocery stores; farms; organizations that provide food, shelter and social services to those in need; news agencies; gas stations, auto supply and auto repair shops; shipping and receiving; banks; private education institutions; plumbers, exterminators, electricians and similar businesses; laundry service providers; and restaurants that offer delivery, takeout or drive-through service.
A complete list of exemptions can be found in the order.
The order also makes exceptions for "essential governmental functions and essential infrastructure," meaning public works construction, private construction and related activities, utilities, telecommunications, and solid waste services. First responders, emergency management personnel, 911 dispatchers, court personnel, law enforcement personnel and others who perform essential services, such as health care workers, are exempt from the order.
All public and private gatherings of any number of people outside a living unit are prohibited, except for limited purposes.
The order comes after the board of commissioners on Friday, March 27, passed a local emergency order that prohibited most public gatherings, closed certain businesses and banned dine-in service at restaurants. The county strengthened its local order Monday, March 30, to match the stay-at-home orders approved Friday by Auburn and Braselton. Winder and Statham have passed emergency orders that include nighttime curfews, and Bethlehem's town council has called a meeting Wednesday, April 1, to approve an order similar to the one the county passed last week.
The county is urging all the municipalities to put a stay-at-home order in place for uniformity, according to a news release. The Winder City Council will consider aligning its measures with the county at a 6 p.m. Tuesday meeting that will be conducted via teleconference. The City of Statham was also working on an ordinance Monday afternoon, city accountant April Plank said.
There were nine confirmed coronavirus cases and two deaths from COVID-19 in Barrow County as of 7 p.m. Monday when the Georgia Department of Public Health provided its latest update.