Restaurants in Gwinnett County must close their dining rooms and certain non-essential businesses must close all together if they have not already done so, because of the pandemic outbreak of the coronavirus disease known as COVID-19, Gwinnett Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash ordered on Wednesday.

The move is being taken in concert with similar orders being issued by other cities in Gwinnett. Suwanee was the first area in the Gwinnett to take such a move, with Mayor Jimmy Burnette issuing a similar order last week.

A statement from the county shows all 16 cities in Gwinnett have agreed to issues similar orders in concert with the county government.

“We appreciate the additional steps put in place by Gov. Brian Kemp this week and have incorporated those into Gwinnett’s order,” Nash said. “In addition, we are responding to the specific situation in Gwinnett by temporarily closing certain establishments that tend to involve the public gathering in groups.

“For other businesses and organizations that are not being closed with this order, it is imperative that social distancing requirements are followed. To the general public, I urge you to stay at home other than for absolutely essential purposes. We will monitor voluntary compliance with this request as we consider additional restrictions.”

Under the order, restaurants can continue to do delivery, drive-thru or take-out, but they must close their dining rooms and outdoor patio seating areas. Hospitals, nursing homes and similar facilities, such as assisted living facilities, are allowed to continue operating their cafeterias, however.

Cities are allowing breweries to sell unopened containers of alcohol for consumption off-site, but they must close their taprooms, a step breweries such as Slow Pour Brewing Company had already done.

Meanwhile, gyms, fitness centers, fitness studios, theaters, live performance venues, bowling alleys, arcades and other similar establishments must close.

Businesses in the county that stay open must take steps to ensure employees stay at least six-feet apart because of the outbreak.

The order is in effect until noon on April 6.

“The cities are working to mesh the directives of Gov. Kemp, guidance from the Georgia Public Health Department and Gwinnett County’s decisions for COVID-19 emergency planning,” Duluth Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Kelkenberg, who is also president of the Gwinnett Municipal Association, said. “Every city is unique, however, we are united in the effort to assure Gwinnett residents of consistency in how we are approaching social distancing, businesses, law enforcement, emergency services and continued delivery of essential services during this critical time.”

Norcross Mayor Craig Newton said, “We are thankful to the leadership and efforts of the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners, Chairman Charlotte Nash and our peer cities. Measures are significantly more impactful when conducted in tandem. Together, we will see our community through this pandemic.”

Lawrenceville Mayor David Still said officials in his city were pleased to see cooperation across the various levels of government in Gwinnett to ensure a uniform policy is in place across all jurisdictions.

“We are grateful to work hand and hand with the County and the other Cities in Gwinnett to issue the Emergency Order to further protect the safety, health and welfare of our business owners and citizens,” Still said in a statement. “This is an extension of how many of our local businesses are already operating.”

Other mayors are asking residents to take precautions during the outbreak to avoid spreading the disease.

“To the general public, I urge you to stay at home other than for absolutely essential purposes,”Sugar Hill Mayor Steve Edwards said. “We will monitor levels of community compliance with this request as we consider the necessity of additional restrictions.

“Sugar Hill is a tight-knit community. This unprecedented health event requires us to continue to care for our friends and neighbors, while still observing social distancing requirements and finding new ways to stay connected.”

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I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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