Athens-Clarke County declares state of emergency, bans gatherings due to coronavirus

COVID-19, Athens,

Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution

Following the actions of other states and cities across the country, Athens-Clarke County discussed imposing its own curfew Monday night but ended up passing less extensive measures.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Kelly Girtz scheduled an emergency meeting of the mayor and commission for Monday evening to approve a state of emergency for the city and to discuss a 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew. The city’s government previously said it would be from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., but a later tweet corrected the time span.

Public gatherings were supposed to be limited to 50 people, but the commission instead banned gatherings of more than 10 people from 5 p.m. Tuesday to 5 a.m. April 7, according to the ordinance. The ban will apply to people in bars, restaurants and entertainment establishments but does not apply to employees.

This gathering ban and a voluntary 24-hour “shelter in place” policy replaced the initial discussed proposal of a mandatory curfew. To watch the full meeting, click here.

The overnight 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 said declared emergency” between those hours.

In addition, the curfew’s proposal said it would have been “subject to certain exceptions and to provide for other purposes as may be necessary to preserve, protect and sustain the life, health, welfare and safety” of Athens citizens.

Three cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Athens, and 121 cases have been confirmed across the state.

Athens, home to the University of Georgia, has fewer people within its city limits than usual due to state universities suspending class for two weeks. Students are advised to stay away from campus, if possible.