The Statham City Council, in an emergency called meeting Tuesday, March 24, approved several citywide measures, including a mandatory 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, aimed at stemming the potential spread of the coronavirus.

The nearly two-week local emergency declaration ordinance, which mirrors the one approved by the Winder City Council on Monday, March 23, also forces the closure of certain businesses (entertainment, recreational and personal grooming), bans dine-in services at restaurants and prohibits most public gatherings.

The measures take effect at 12 a.m. Wednesday, March 25 and are set to expire at 11:59 p.m. April 6, though the council could choose to extend them at a later date.

The measures are in response to a statement Tuesday from the Georgia Municipal Association urging all of its municipalities to declare public health emergencies and close "nonessential" businesses within their boundaries.

On Monday, Gov. Brian Kemp announced a two-week statewide ban on all gatherings of more than 10 people, unless they can assure spacing of at least six feet between people at all times, and ordered the closing of bars and nightclubs across the state. He also gave the DPH the authority to close all business and nonprofits — including churches — that do not abide by the regulations and ordered “medically-fragile” residents to shelter in place for two weeks.

He has faced calls from medical professionals, state legislators from both major political parties and local governments from around the state to take stronger measures.

The council met at the Statham Community Center — with each member and all others in attendance seated several feet apart — and quickly passed the resolution by a 5-0 vote. 

"This is (being done) in hopes that we can ride this wave out," Mayor Joe Piper said. "We're hoping people will stay home."

As with the Winder ordinance, during the curfew period, people are ordered to remain in their homes unless they are providing designated services such as public safety, medical services, military services or utility emergency repairs. Other exceptions include those in need of medical attention; people traveling to and from their jobs with appropriate identification; those traveling to medical facilities; those delivering food, medicine, medical supplies or fuel; news media employees; and for other “essential functions.” 

"If we see you out after 9, we will stop and question you and identify who you are," police chief Ira Underwood said.

Underwood added that the department will switch to 12-hour shifts with extra patrols to combat any pickup in crime activity with most people home and some businesses closed. He said the department will still respond to emergency calls while handling "miscellaneous" calls over the phone. 

"We hope that the public understands and that the curfew is adhered to," Piper said. "If we keep our heads about us and exercise good common sense, we can all get through this."

Find the full declaration and ordinance below. 

EMERGENCY DECLARATION AND ORDINANCE

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 locally; 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, 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 City Council of the City of Statham, 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, Section 2.13 “City Legislation” of the Charter of the City of Statham 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 STATHAM, GEORGIA 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 adopt 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 of Statham because of the proliferation of COVID-19 in the United States and the State of Georgia, which will remain in force and effect until 11:59 p.m. on April 6, 2020.

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 more persons 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. The City Council and all other boards, commissions or agencies of the City, shall have authority to conduct meetings and take votes by teleconference in accordance with O.C.G.A. Section 50-14-1(g). The Mayor shall have authority to cancel any regularly scheduled meeting of the Council or of any board, commission or agency of the City during this emergency.

Section 4. Utility Services

For the duration of the declared emergency, the City will not disconnect any public utility service provided by the City on account of non-payment. After the conclusion of the declared emergency, persons will have a period of thirty (30) days to make such payments before service may be disconnected.

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.

(d) To temporarily suspend the interruption of services to customers or 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.

(e) 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.

(f) To place limitations on access to, operation of and use of City facilities and buildings, modification of personnel policies and other actions consistent with Federal and State law, rule, regulation or guidance.

Section 6. Tolling of Deadlines

Any deadlines for the purchasing or obtaining 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.

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 as much as possible given the physical constraints of the premises. 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 of individuals, and any facility used for entertainment, social, grooming, or general health and wellbeing purposes, must close and remain closed for the duration of this emergency.

Section 9. Personal Distance

Establishments such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and other businesses which remain open during the emergency must post signage on entrance doors informing consumers to maintain at least six (6) feet of personal distance between themselves and others as much as possible given the physical constraints of the premises.

Section 10. Social Gatherings

All public and private social 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 Manager/Administrator

The City Council desires to make certain that the chain of authority within city management is clear. If the Mayor is unable to perform his duties, the Vice-Mayor shall assume the duties of the Mayor. If the Mayor and Vice-Mayor are unable to perform the duties, the Mayor or Vice-Mayor shall appoint the duties of the Mayor.

Section 12. Curfew

A curfew is imposed from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. effective immediately. Residents, unless “exempt individuals” as defined herein, shall remain in their homes or on their property during the curfew period. Exempt individuals include those individuals engaged in the provision of designated, essential services,

such as (1) fire; (2) law enforcement; (3) medical and hospital services, including veterinary services; (4) military services; (5) utility emergency repairs; (6) persons seeking emergency medical services or hospital services; (7) individuals traveling to and from their jobs with appropriate identification and persons traveling to medical facilities; (8) individuals engaged in the delivery of food, medicine, medical supplies, fuel including, but not limited to, the re-stocking of grocery stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores; (9) news media employees; (10) designated employees or agents of businesses designated by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency as “essential” pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 38-3-58; (11) persons providing necessary care of companion animals in the custody and care of an animal shelter, boarding facility, or kennel and persons walking personal animals; and (12) critical infrastructure businesses and employees as designated by the Governor or identified by U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

Section 13. Procurement

The City Council suspends the bid and competitive portions of the City’s Procurement Policy and authorizes the Mayor to utilize the emergency procurement provisions of City Code Section 7-1(b) and 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 City Council and upon approval by the Mayor shall become effective 12:00 a.m. March 25, 2020.

ORDAINED AND RESOLVED, this 24th day of March, 2020.

_____________________________________ Joe Piper, Mayor

Attest:

_____________________________________ Sandra Bennett, Assistant City Clerk

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.