GMA urges cities to declare public health emergencies

The Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) Tuesday morning urged municipal leaders in all of Georgia’s 538 cities to declare public health emergencies with guidance from a model ordinance created by the association. The public health emergencies will slow the rise of novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Georgia and establish a uniform measure aimed at controlling the spread of the disease.
Cities and counties across the state have already declared state of emergencies and more are expected to follow suit following GMA’s urging.
Contacted by telephone Tuesday afternoon, Hazlehurst Mayor Bayne Stone expressed doubt that the mayor and council have the authority to adopt the sample ordinance recommended by GMA and said city officials are doing everything they can to contain the spread of the disease. County Administrator Keith Carter said the County Commission would follow recommendations made by Emergency Management Agency Director Charles Wasdin.
“Both cities and counties have inherent police powers to take emergency actions in the state of Georgia. Additionally, the United States Supreme Court has held that a local government utilizing its police powers in a reasonable manner ‘to prevent the spread of contagious diseases’ does not violate the Constitution,” said GMA Executive Director Larry Hanson, while referencing the model ordinance GMA drafted for cities to use.
The sample ordinance prohibits public gatherings on city/county property, suspends cutting off city services due to nonpayment, enables the city/county to categorize services as required or discretionary, orders that eating establishments cease offering dine-in services but can offer drive-through or take-out services, orders the closing of gyms, fitness centers, pools, clubs, theaters, nail salons and similar facilities, mandates that grocery stores, pharmacies and other businesses remaining open must inform consumers to maintain at least six feet of distance between each other, prohibits all public and private gatherings for more than 10 people outside the household or living unit, and imposes a curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Among the cities and counties that have already established curfews are Dodge County and the City of Eastman, Dooly County, Laurens County, Pulaski County, and the City of Unadilla.
Warner Robins’ declaration stops gatherings of 10 or more people and encourages restaurant to offer take-out and curbside pickup.
Macon-Bibb County limits gatherings to 10 people or less and closes business that offer body care services.
South Georgia cities and counties who have already declared a state of emergency include Lakeland, Eastman and Dodge County, Montgomery County, Richmond Hill, Warner Robins, Perry, Tifton and Tift County, Statesboro and Bulloch County, Washington County, Milledgeville, Glynn County, Crisp County, Hinesville, Fort Oglethorpe, Randolph County, Garden City, Thunderbolt, Tybee Island, St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island, McIntosh County, and Savannah.

1 Comment

  1. Cora Kiceniuk on March 30, 2020 at 6:15 pm

    Ok, don’t know where to actually post this. I did post on abc7ny. Didn’t show up. I am assuming it needs to be reviewed. I really am getting annoyed with all the political anger out there. My point is, I was trained about 20 years ago for the Medical Reserve Corp. We were instructed in the contagious disease spread and treatment and how the MRC would function. I served on one night of supervision when there was severe flooding of the river In Lambertville, NJ. A nursing home and individual families we displaced. Now if there was training in the event of mass contagion and it was FEMA sponsored, why were we not prepared with personal protective equipment for healthcare workers? We stand around pointing fingers, instead of looking into how this situation came to be. We need to find out how this catastrophe evolved and who is responsible. I spoke my mind. Maybe we can protect our future
    Thank you

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