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July 2020
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Local governments look to state for reopening guidelines

 

 

Pickens and Jasper leaders are “holding tight” with their executive orders regarding COVID-19 restrictions, abiding by state mandates that supersede any local acts, and waiting for cues from Gov. Brian Kemp to see what moves to make next. 

Pickens Commission Chair Rob Jones said at this point they will keep their local State of Emergency declaration, enacted March 24, in effect until April 30, “but we could extend it to May 13,” which would coincided with the last day of Gov. Kemp’s State of Emergency declaration (the state’s shelter in place orders expire April 30th). “I wouldn’t have a problem letting it run on into May and then regrouping and see if we need to re-do it. I am curious what the governor will do. I’m also wanting to see if he is going to open up his state offices or keep them closed until June. Right now our county offices are open, the public just can’t go inside.”

Jones commented on the gradual opening of some businesses, and said they would keep an eye on the number of COVID-19 cases over the next few weeks and make future decisions based on that. 

“Our cases went up to 21 last I checked, and Gilmer is more than us now,” he said. “We will continue to monitor those numbers as we move ahead.”

Jasper Mayor Steve Lawrence, speaking at an online meeting among county leaders, said he was very hesitant to get out too far away from the governor’s orders.

Leaders will continue discussion this week about shelter-in-place and emergency orders and make statements as changes occur.  

On the enforcement side, Georgia State Patrol Post #28 Tim Nichols said they have been handling complaints regarding executive and shelter-in-place orders. The biggest complaints are from employees who claim they do not have the appropriate personal protection equipment made available to them.

“Mostly it’s people reporting businesses, organizations or corporations that violate the governor’s orders,” Nichols said. “What we are finding is that it’s an employee who wants to try to get the business to cease [operations] so they don’t have to work. We haven’t had any sustained complaints.”

Nichols also said they have not had complaints about large gatherings at this point, and while they have the power to issue citations for reckless conduct for violation of executive orders they had not issued any at press time. He said with restaurant and other business reopening, they will see how complaints go in the coming weeks.