In an emergency called meeting this afternoon, the Helen City Commission approved new closures and rules in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new ordinance, which was unanimously approved, is effective immediately and set to expire April 30, unless commissioners decide to extend it or terminate it earlier. It includes additional business closures including, but not limited to, hotels and motels; short term vacation rentals of houses and cabins; arcades; amusement parks and related businesses; horse carriage rides; and any outdoor commercial day use picnic table areas.
Exceptions to the closures include businesses that are defined as essential services or, because of the nature of their operations, allow the required social distancing parameters to be maintained.
Highlights of the ordinance include:
• For the duration of the declared emergency, all city park(s), public areas, playground area(s), recreational areas, or similar places are closed by the City of Helen. Individuals or families may continue to use sidewalks for walking or other exercise, provided that six foot social distancing parameters are maintained.
• All businesses within the city limits are required to cease all activities except minimum basic operations, except for businesses defined below. The businesses that are allowed to remain open shall comply with social distancing requirements of keeping customers a minimum of six feet apart, including, but not limited to, when any such customers are standing in line at those businesses.
• The City Commission finds the following businesses may remain open during the local state of emergency, either by the essential services that their businesses renders, or due to the nature of their operations allowing the required social distancing parameters to be maintained.
- Grocery stores, convenience stores, and other establishments engaged in, as their primary purpose, the retail sale of canned or packaged foods, fruits and vegetables, pet supplies, meats, and/or any other household consumer products (such cleaning and personal care products). This includes stores that sell groceries and also sell other non-grocery products, and products necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences.
- Gas stations; convenience stores, auto-supply stores, hardware stores and related facilities
- Banks and related financial institutions
- Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences and essential businesses
- Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but such facilities shall only be permitted to remain open for drive through or curbside service. If the restaurant remains open for drive -thru or curbside service, the customers must stay in their vehicle throughout the transaction and the food must be taken from the premises by vehicle.
- If a restaurant remains open for drive through or curbside service; customers must remain in their vehicle throughout. 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-premise. The same parameters apply as to curbside food service sales. The customer must remain in their vehicle throughout the process, and the package sale is for off-premises consumption only.
- Laundries/Laundromats, provided that the social distancing parameters required are enforced.
- Package Stores, provided that the social distancing parameters required are enforced.
- Sanitation Services
- Large scale outdoor recreational facilities, such as golf courses, provided that the social distancing parameters required are enforced.
- Home Offices or such businesses conducted solely as "home businesses" and not open to the public.
- Any business that is identified as a critical infrastructure business as designated by the Governor of the State of Georgia or so identified by U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
The full ordinance can be viewed here.