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Posted on: March 25, 2020

Newton County adopt Shelter in Place Ordinance

Newton County, Georgia 1821

The Newton County Board of Commissioners and Covington City Council passed joint resolutions Wednesday, March  23, issuing a shelter at home ordinance for residents of the Unincorporated Newton County and the City of Covington to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The ordinance was updated to include churches, funeral homes and gun and ammunition shops on April 1.

The ordinance, which was unanimously approved by the Board of Commissioners during an Emergency Meeting goes effect at 11:59 p.m. March 25. The ordinance will end at 11:59 p.m. on April 7, 2020 or until it is extended, rescinded, superseded, or amended in writing by the Chairman and Board.

“This is a serious time we are dealing with,” Chairman Marcello Banes said “I believe not many of us has seen this type of activity before and this type of outcry. I believe we do have to take the necessary steps to make sure our citizens not only feel safe but are safe and believe we have done that with this resolution.”

A full draft of the ordinance can be found on the County’s website.

The ordinance allows only essential travel, which is defined as to care for another person, for a health care need, to obtain or deliver necessary services or supplies, to engage in outdoor activity, to work at an essential business, to perform minimum basic operations at a business closed to the public or to travel at an essential business.

For the purposes of this Order, “Essential Businesses” means:

  • Healthcare Operations and Essential Infrastructure;
  • Grocery stores, certified farmers’ markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores, and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supply, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, and any other household consumer products (such as 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;
  • Food cultivation, including farming, livestock, and fishing;
  • Businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals;
  • Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services;
  • Gas stations, auto-supply, auto-repair, and related facilities;
  • Banks and related financial institutions;
  • Hardware stores;
  • Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, Essential Activities, and Essential Businesses;
  • Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes;
  • Educational institutions—including private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities—for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions, provided that social distancing of six-feet per person is maintained to the greatest extent possible;
  • Laundromats, drycleaners, and laundry service providers;
  • Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or carry out. Schools and other entities that typically provide free food services to students or members of the public may continue to do so under this Order on the condition that the food is provided to students or members of the public on a pick-up and take-away basis only. Schools and other entities that provide food services under this exemption shall not permit the food to be eaten at the site where it is provided, or at any other gathering site;
  • Businesses that supply products needed for people to work from home;
  • Businesses that supply other Essential Businesses with support or supplies and all industrial manufacturers;
  • Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods, or services directly to residences;
  • Airlines, taxis, and other private transportation providers providing transportation services necessary for Essential Activities and other purposes expressly authorized in this Order;
  • Home-based care for seniors, adults, or children;
  • Residential facilities including hotels, motels, shared rental units and similar facilities and shelters for seniors, adults, and children;
  • Professional services, such as legal, accounting services, real estate services, when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities or while supporting other Essential Businesses.
  • Unless otherwise preempted by state law, childcare facilities providing services that enable employees exempted in this Order to work as permitted. To the extent possible, childcare facilities must operate under the following mandatory conditions:
  • Childcare must be carried out in stable groups of 12 or fewer (“stable”
  • means that the same 12 or fewer children are in the same group each day).
  • Children shall not change from one group to another.
  • If more than one group of children is cared for at one facility, each group
  • shall be in a separate room. Groups shall not mix with each other.
  • Childcare providers shall remain solely with one group of children.
  • All businesses which possesses a Class A, retail liquor package license; Class B,
  • retail beer package license; or a Class C, retail wine package license shall be authorized,
  • but only via drive-thru or in parking lots or at curb.
  • Religious assemblies. The County strongly encourages, but does not require, religious assemblies to voluntarily limit their assembly to no more than 10 people, and only for the purpose of conducting and producing a religious service for video or audio transmission.
  • Businesses selling firearms or ammunition
  • Outdoor recreation businesses, including fishing, hunting and golf course activities.
  • Funeral homes and crematories; provided the number of attendees at any funeral service, visitation or other gatherings shall be limited to the maximum number recommended by the CDC or the President of the United States, whichever is less, and which number is, as of April 1, 10 people, exclusive of employees.

All other businesses are considered non-essential and shall remain closed to the public and shall remain open only for minimum basic operations

For the purposes of the order “minimum basic operations” means:

  • The minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, necessary physical maintenance, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions.
  • The minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences.
  • One owner of the business, or one designee of the owner, on site at the business performing functions necessary to maintain the business, provided that the business must be physically closed to the public.

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