Gwinnett County residents are being ordered to not only bundle up in their homes, but to stay in them, until 11:59 p.m. on April 13 because of the outbreak of the coronavirus disease known as COVID-19.
A stay-at-home order was issued jointly by the county and its cities Friday afternoon, mandating residents to stay at home except to conduct essential business needed for their health and safety as a way of reducing opportunities for the disease to spread. All non-essential businesses will be forced to close because of the order.
“We are all navigating uncharted waters as we respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency, and I am grateful to each of the cities for their decisive actions,” Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said. “The district commissioners and I would like to express our deep appreciation to all of our residents and businesses for making temporary sacrifices for the good of our communities as our hospitals, healthcare workers, and first responders prepare for a rapidly growing caseload.”
The only businesses that will be allowed to remain open include: health care facilities; grocery stores; farmers markets; food banks; convenience stores; other stores that sell dry goods or canned foods; pet supply stores; gas stations; banks and related financial institutions; hardware stores; newspapers; television and radio stations; auto repair shops; auto supply stores; plumbers; electricians; exterminators; mailing and shipping businesses; laundromats; dry cleaners; educational institutions not closed by Gov. Brian Kemp; businesses that provide materials people use to work from home; delivery services; home-based senior, adult of child care; child care centers; airlines; taxis; lawfirms, real estate firms; accounting firms; private construction companies; public works construction firms; essential government functions, such as dispatchers, emergency management personnel and court and law enforcement employees; hotels; food cultivation businesses such as farms; businesses that provide social services; and businesses that provide services to the government.
And, yes, restaurants can also continue doing take-out. Businesses that sell alcohol can also sell unopened containers of beer and wine for consumption offsite as well.
People who need to provide care for a family member or pet can also leave their home to do that.
Law enforcement and code enforcement officers will be used to enforce the order.
“The cities have worked to align their emergency decisions with the directives of Gov. Kemp, guidance from the public health department, and Gwinnett County’s local emergency orders,” Duluth Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Kelkenberg, who is also president of the Gwinnett Municipal Association, said. “Our residents need to understand the extreme danger and seriousness of the coronavirus, to which no one has immunity. We are acting in unison to stem its spread, to keep from overwhelming our medical facilities, and to save lives.”
The orders issued by the county and the cities do permit residents to walk, jog, ride a bike and even play golf, but they will be required to practice social distancing, including staying at least six-feet apart from each other at all times.
Other than exercising, and going out to get essential goods and services, however, residents must stay at home.
At noon Friday, the Georgia Department of Public Health reported there have been 102 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in Gwinnett so far. That’s more than twice as many cases as there were 48 hours earlier, at noon on Wednesday.
The county has been gradually moving toward this over the last week. It closed playgrounds, pavilions and other social gathering spots in parks last weekend. Then the county and its cities jointly ordered restaurants to close their dining rooms and outdoor seating areas, and other businesses such as bowling alleys, theaters, arcades and tattoo parlors to close entirely.
“We continue to analyze the situation daily, always seeking information from the experts at the CDC and the Department of Public Health in order to make the best decision for the citizens of Lawrenceville,” Lawrenceville Mayor David Still said. “Not only do we have local businesses and employees to consider, we have nearly 50,000 utility customers who rely on us to provide water, gas and electricity to their homes and businesses. This Stay at Home Order makes a strong statement to our citizens about the importance of temporarily adjusting their lifestyle to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.”