During a teleconferenced LaGrange City Council Meeting, the council unanimously approved an amendment to its State of Emergency to prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people, temporarily close certain businesses, and close restaurant dining areas due to the COVID- 19 outbreak.
Starting March 25 at 5 p.m., restaurants and other places where food is served must cease allowing dine-in service. Restaurants may continue selling food via delivery, drive-thru or take-out.
Persons in the establishments, including employees, must maintain at least six feet of distance between each other as much as possible given the physical constraints of the location.
The ordinance will also temporarily allow restaurants that are licensed to sell beer and wine for onpremises consumption, to be allowed to sell unopened containers of beer or wine for take-out consumption.
The City Manager will also be authorized designate temporary public parking spaces to facilitate take-out and curbside orders.
The City also ordered the temporary closure of gyms, fitness centers, indoor amusement facilities, bowling alleys, pool halls, theaters, massage parlors, nail salons, barbershops, hair salons, tattoo parlors and any other similar facility must close and remain closed for the duration of this emergency.
Other retail businesses that remain open must post signs at entrance doors informing customers to maintain six feet of distance between each other when possible.
All public and private gathering of more than 10 people occurring outside of a home are prohibited, except for people gathering 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. The ordinance also allows for City Manager Meg Kelsey to designate an interim successor to perform her duties should she be unable to perform them.
Much of the amended changes come from a model ordinance recommended by the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) composed after Governor Brian Kemp urged “local officials to do what’s best for their communities to keep people safe and stop the spread of coronavirus.”
The model ordinance used to draft the amendment to LaGrange’s emergency ordinance originally called for the imposition of a curfew from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., but the council unanimously voted to remove that portion.
These changes will be in effect for the duration the State of Emergency, originally set for 60 days starting on March 17.
Mayor Jim Thornton acknowledged the toll this is going to take on effected businesses and their employee. He also noted that the council can certainly vote to dial back precautions sooner that the 60day deadline if things improve or extend it if necessary.
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Tommy Murphy Staff Writer