During a called meeting Thursday morning, March 26, the White County Board of Commissioners declared a state of emergency and approved new emergency regulations to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The state of emergency is to remain in place until April 13, unless modified. The changes apply only to the unincorporated areas of White County.
Highlights of the county’s emergency protective ordinance include:
• Prohibiting public and private gatherings or more than 10 people, indoors or outdoors. Exceptions, in which those attending are generally not within 6 feet of each other for extended periods, include: (1) governmental operations; (2) spaces where persons may be in transit or waiting for transit such as airports, bus stations, or terminals; (3) child-care or adult care facilities, residential buildings or any type of temporary sheltering or housing; ( 4) grocery stores or pharmacies; (5) hospital or medical facilities; (6) educational institutions engaged in medical, engineering, or other efforts by students or faculty to deal with the impact of COVID-19 and (7) the performance of job duties by persons not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or residing with any person exhibiting symptoms ofCOVID-19.
• Closing restaurants to the public except for take-out, delivery, drive-thru or curbside services. This does not apply to institutional cafeterias, such as a nursing home.
• Closing wineries and breweries, except for retail sales of wine and malt beverages to be consumed elsewhere. On-site tastings and consumption are prohibited.
• Closing establishments providing body care services where there is physical contact between provider and client. Examples include barbers and hair designers, cosmetology, massage therapy, tattooing, esthetics, body waxing, tanning salons and nail care. This does not apply to services performed by or under direct supervision of a licensed medical doctor, nurse, dentist, physical therapist, chiropractor or other healthcare professional.
• Closing all indoor recreation facilities. Examples include gyms, health studios, yoga, barre, spin, or other fitness classes, spas, saunas, indoor amusement facilities, arcades, bowling alleys, pool halls, movie theatres, playhouses, and concert venues.
• Allowing other retail, commercial or industrial establishments to stay open as long as they take reasonable steps to ensure people are not within 6 feet of each other for more than a brief period and they prohibit employees from working if they are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms or living with someone who is.
• Closing Yonah Preserve (including its hiking and biking trails) and all county-owned recreation facilities.
• Canceling all permits for special events to be held on White County property. No new special event permits will be approved during this time. Refunds will be provided for those affected by the cancellation.
The action follows Gov. Brian Kemp’s executive orders earlier in the week that required “medically fragile” Georgians and those at high risk of contracting the novel coronavirus to stay at home, closed all bars and nightclubs, and prohibited gatherings of 10 or more unless the participants remain at least 6 feet apart.
The governor’s order, which took effect at noon Tuesday, runs until noon April 6.