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ACC commissioners back off proposed mandatory curfew in response to coronavirus outbreak

Updated: Mar 16, 2020

By Joe Johnson

Athens-Clarke County comissioners Monday voted to approve a voluntary “shelter in place" policy to reduce person-to-person contacts during the current novel coronavirus virus disease 2019 pandemic.

Athens-Clarke Mayor Kelly Girtz originally called for the emergency meeting of the commission to consider a proposed mandatory nighttime curfew in light of the Georgia Department of Public Health announcing that a third case of the highly-contagious COVID-19 virus has been confirmed in Athens-Clarke County.

As of Monday, Georgia had recorded 121 cases of COVID-19 in 23 counties, and one death caused by the virus, according to the DPH.

The DPH updates its statewide coronavirus information each day at noon.

The proposed curfew would have made it “unlawful for any person to travel, loiter, wander or stroll in or upon the public streets, highways, roads, lanes, parks, or other public grounds, public places, public buildings, places of amusement, eating places, vacant lots, or any other place” during the current public health emergency.

The proposal was called too Draconian by some commissioners.

The shelter-in-place resolution that was approved by a unanimous vote essentialy codifies what many county residents had already been doing to try to avoid infected people, such as remaining at home except when traveling to and from work, running errands, and staying at least six feet from others.

A proposed crowd restriction was reduced from 50-person gatherings to groups of 10 people. The restriction is to last each day from 7p.m. To 5 a.m.

Bars and reataurants will be allowed to remain open for business but must provide drive-through and curbside service, and are forbidden to allow inside more than one customer at a time.

The policy takes effect at 7 p.m. Tuesday until 5 a.m. April 17, the date of the next mayor and commission meeting when the policy will be revisited.

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