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Mandatory. It is critical for everyone to follow the order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect themselves, their loved ones, friends, neighbors and the whole community. All persons, businesses, and other entities are required to comply if they do not fall within the exemptions that are specified in the ordinance.
This is a critical intervention to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in Athens-Clarke County. The ordinance is designed to ensure that the maximum number of people self-isolate in their places of residence to the maximum extent feasible, while enabling essential services to continue, in order to slow the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) to the maximum extent possible. While this news may feel alarming, it is a necessary step to prevent a worsening situation and not overwhelm our healthcare system. The patterns of the virus around the world, and in our own state, tell us that moving right now to maximize social distancing and restrict people gathering is the best way to fight the virus and help ensure that our healthcare networks are not overwhelmed.
From March 20, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. until April 7, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. unless extended by the Mayor and Commission.
Updated March 21 - 6:06 p.m.
Essential businesses may remain open, but should follow social distancing requirements that include:
maintaining at least a six-foot social distancing from other individuals,
washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer,
covering coughs or sneezes (into sleeve or elbow, not hands),
regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces, and
not shaking hands.
These are some categories of businesses considered essential:
Healthcare organizations, such as hospitals, medical and mental health clinics, doctor offices, pharmacies, health care supply stores, and other health care facilities
Essential infrastructure, such as construction and related functions
Grocery stores, certified farmer’s markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores, and other groceries
Food cultivation, including farming, livestock, and fishing
Businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services
Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services
Gas stations and auto supply, auto-repair, and related facilities
Banks and related financial institutions
Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining safety and sanitation
Post offices and businesses providing mailing and shipping services
Laundromats, dry cleaners, and laundry service providers
Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food (delivery or carry out only)
Businesses that supply products needed for people to work from home
Business or manufacturers that supply other essential businesses with the supply necessary to operate
Businesses that ship or deliver goods or services directly to residences
Transportation such as taxis and airlines
Home-based care for seniors, adults, or children
Residential facilities including hotels, motels, shared rental units
Legal, accounting, real estate services
Childcare facilities (under specific conditions)
Businesses with retail liquor package license, retail beer package license, retail wine package license (drive-thru or parking lots or at curb)
Businesses consisting exclusively of employees working from home
Churches, places of worship, and religious services
A more detailed list of businesses considered essential and businesses not considered essential is available online.
Businesses are allowed to perform “Minimum Basic Operations,” provided that employees maintain a distance of six feet from one another to the greatest extent feasible to carrying out:
The minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employees 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
The Athens Downtown Development Authority Small Business Resiliency Grant is intended to support small businesses and their employees in downtown Athens who are significantly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak: https://downtownathensga.org/covid-19-downtown-athens-small-business-grant.
The U.S. Small Business Administration Coronavirus (COVID-19): Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources describes important resources available: https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources.
The Athens Area Chamber of Commerce has links to additional resources and helpful information regarding business relief efforts: https://www.athensga.com/covid-19-resources.
At least $3 million of local funding has already been dedicated to helping with recovery, with the process of disbursement still being determined. Many other options will be explored in the coming weeks and months.
No. The TSPLOST and SPLOST laws provide that TSPLOST/SPLOST funds can only be used to fund Capital Improvement Projects. Further, the Georgia Supreme Court has ruled that the governing authority is obliged to use proceeds from the TSPLOST/SPLOST for the projects approved in the referendum by the voters.
Yes. However, they should comply with the social distancing requirement as outlined in the emergency management ordinance. Additionally, use of video and/or online services is strongly encouraged.
The Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to bear arms. Although courts have found that that right is not unlimited and that certain regulations are constitutional (e.g., prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons, prohibitions on felons possessing firearms), caution should be used when passing any regulation that would affect this constitutional right. It is very likely that an ordinance that closed gun stores would violate the Second Amendment. See, e.g., District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), where the U.S. Supreme Court found that District of Columbia’s ban on hand guns violated the Second Amendment.
In Heller, the Court noted that hand guns were commonly used for self defense. Closing gun stores arguably has the same effect as banning hand guns – it interferes with an individual’s right to self defense. Accordingly, gun stores should be considered “necessary to maintaining the safety…of residences” under section 10.a.ii of the ordinance and may remain open, provided they comply with Social Distancing requirements as outlined in the emergency management ordinance.
Businesses located in the city limits of Winterville and Bogart are not subject to the ACCGov Local Emergency Declaration, as the Declaration only applies to the territorial limits of the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County, Georgia. Note that a mailing address of Winterville or Bogart may not necessarily match the actual city limits.
The full ordinance is available online.
This FAQ area will be continually updated. Email email@example.com with any additional questions that aren’t answered here.