The Georgia General Assembly has suspended the 2020 legislative session indefinitely. The suspension is in the best interest of the health and safety of members, staff and the citizens of Georgia.

As we see the COVID-19 virus continue to spread across the globe and across Georgia, many of us are left feeling worried and confused. I am proud to announce that I have been appointed to serve on the Economic Impact Committee of the governor’s Coronavirus Task Force. As the chairman of the Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee and a member of the Economic Impact Committee, I want to take some time and highlight the impact the Coronavirus is having on economic development and tourism in Georgia.

Public health is a shared responsibility, and communities, businesses and individuals are starting to take increased measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Many businesses have temporarily closed, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a guide for employers to respond to the virus, as well as released travel information for those deciding to cancel or postpone trips. The United States Chamber of Commerce agrees with these CDC recommendations and has urged state and local chambers, and the wider business community, to adopt and implement these standards.

As more people decide to not to travel, we will see our tourism industry slow down quite a bit. With all of the ongoing concerns, people may decide not to take their trip to Georgia, which could impact frequently-visited cities like Atlanta and Savannah. Many companies have also cut nonessential travel. Because of this, Georgia is expected to see a 30-to-50-percent drop in the hospitality industry over the next two months, according to the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is expected to see less travel as well. As the world’s busiest airport, the facility generates $82 billion in economic impact annually. We may see that number drop due to travel bans.

Additionally, the National Basketball Association suspended its season, Major League Baseball announced a temporary hiatus, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) canceled the national tournament, and Major League Soccer suspended all matches for at least a month. Atlanta has professional teams in all three sports and was set to host the NCAA men’s Final Four in April. This is going to adversely affect hotels, restaurants and businesses surrounding the stadiums and arenas. Local contractors, such as cleaning crews, caterers and security, may also lose their paychecks.

It is too early to determine the long-term impact the coronavirus will have on Georgia’s economy, but we do know that just six weeks ago the economic picture was bright, and those underlying strengths do remain, such as the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years, strong wage growth and a booming small business market. However, COVID-19 is causing disruptions for businesses of all sizes and sectors. Our citizens are spending less money right now, and consumer spending is very important to our economy.

Our leaders are taking all of this into consideration and working on steps to provide assistance and relief to businesses and workers alike. We are interested in your ideas on how our state government can mitigate the adverse economic impact to our businesses and citizens. Please email your suggestions to me at Frank.Ginn@senate.ga.gov.

In terms of your health and the health of those around you, it is important we all take the appropriate measures to prevent the spread of germs including:

•Avoid close contact with others, especially those who are sick.

•Avoid touching your face.

•Wash and /or disinfect your hands like your life or other lives depend on it.

•Disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces.

•Cover your cough or sneeze with a flexed elbow or tissue.

Stay home if you are sick.

It’s also important that we all continue to stay informed and prepared. I encourage you all to visit the CDC website for the most updated information, and listen to what your state and local authorities are saying. For more information on COVID-19, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

If you have any questions regarding the suspension, please do contact my office by phone or email. It is my greatest pleasure to represent my constituents from the 47th District.

Sen. Frank Ginn serves as chairman of the Economic Development and Tourism Committee. He represents the 47th Senate District, which includes Barrow and Madison counties and portions of Clarke and Jackson counties. He can be reached at 404-656-4700 or by email at frank.ginn@senate.ga.gov.

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