Suwanee City Hall

Suwanee is one of several Gwinnett cities that have declared a state of emergency in light of the outbreak of the coronavirus disease known as COVID-19.

Six more Gwinnett cities have declared states of emergency as the coronavirus disease known as COVID-19 continues to spread in Georgia.

Leaders in Suwanee, Sugar Hill, Snellville, Duluth, Dacula and Auburn have each declared a state of emergency. They join Lawrenceville and Norcross, who declared their own states of emergency earlier in the week.

Perhaps the strictest declaration so far was in Suwanee, where Mayor Jimmy Burnette ordered several businesses to close. Those businesses include movie theaters, fitness centers and gyms, bowling alleys, live performance venues, entertainment centers and other similar businesses. Restaurants must also close their dining rooms and outdoor patio seating areas.

City parks can remain open, however.

“Most of our city restaurants have already began making these adjustments on their own, and for that we thank them for their proactive efforts to date,” Burnette said in a statement. “With this proclamation, we are taking additional steps to combat the spread of COVID-19 in our community, and protect the health and safety of Suwanee residents.”

Under city law, the emergency declaration in Suwanee can only be in effect for 72 hours, meaning, since it went into effect Friday, that it will expire Monday unless Burnette extends it for another 72 hours.

Duluth took a somewhat similar step in the declaration it issued Friday afternoon, ordering restaurants to close dining rooms and patio seating areas, although they can still do carry-out orders and sell unopened bottles of beer and wine. It did not order any businesses to totally close, however.

Duluth’s declaration — which will be in effect until the City Council votes to end it — also suspends competitive bid and countersignature requirements; issues a stay of all singular public hearing or meetings of any city board or committee, allows the City Council to conduct meetings by teleconference; extends any regulatory permits that require a hearing; authorizes Mayor Nancy Harris to extend or modify deadlines for occupational taxes and license renewals and fees; and delays the due date for alcohol excise taxes until June 30.

Sugar Hill leaders voted Friday morning to declare their state of emergency until April 13. It authorizes the City Council and other city boards to conduct meetings by teleconference.

City Manager Paul Radford is also empowered, with approval from Mayor Steve Edwards, to “take such actions deemed necessary or appropriate for the public health and safety” of Sugar Hill residents.

Snellville’s declaration lasts until June 17 and also allows its City Council to conduct meetings by teleconference and empowers the city manager, with Mayor Barbara Bender’s blessing, to close restaurants or other businesses who are deemed to be likely places where people could congregate and spread COVID-19.

Restaurants can also sell unopened bottle of beer or wine to consumption off-site with a food purchase. The city manager can also make emergency purchases of supplies or services, and even construction items, needed to address the COVID-19 situation.

“The health and well-being of our citizens is paramount during this uncertain time,” Bender said. “This declaration allows us to utilize all the available powers of the mayor and council to ensure our citizens and local businesses are getting the help they need to get through this pandemic. Please stay safe by staying home as much as possible and practice social distancing. And if you can, do your best to support our local businesses as many are struggling.”

Dacula’s state of emergency lasts until May 19. It authorizes Mayor Trey King to assume powers allowed under City Code 2-84, including: taking control of emergency management resources; seizing or temporarily taking control of private property for public protection purposes; taking emergency actions to protect Dacula residents and the ability to “sell, lend, give or distribute all or any such property or supplies among the inhabitants of the county and to maintain a strict accounting of property or supplies distributed and for funds received for such property or supplies.”

City leaders are also authorized to take other actions, or use any city resource deemed necessary to protect Dacula residents.

Auburn Mayor Linda Blechinger declared a state of the emergency for her city earlier in the week. It lasts until April 2 and empowers the mayor, city administrator and chief of police to take actions deemed necessary to address the emergency and protect Auburn residents.

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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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