Valdosta, Lowndes County recommend closing restaurants
Government officials in Valdosta and Lowndes County are recommending all restaurants close dine-in services.
The recommendations follow those suggested by the Georgia Department of Public Health. Local officials say beginning Thursday, all businesses and offices with public lobby areas are encouraged to close or limit public access.
This does not include those that provide essential services, like grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies, doctors' and veterinary offices, child care centers, hardware stores, gas stations, industrial manufacturing, food processing, agriculture and hotels.
Local officials say restaurants are allowed and encouraged to open for drive-thru, pickup and delivery. Restaurants are also being recommended to increase the frequency of cleaning and sanitizing efforts of all hard surfaces.
"Valdosta and Lowndes County's small businesses and their workers are the backbone of our economy, and I understand that these actions will not only impact them, but will also disrupt the lives of our community, people who work and eat at our renowned restaurants and bars. However COVID-19 continues to spread across the U.S. and experts have been clear that implementing social distancing that includes these measures is the most effective method to mitigate its spread and to protect public health," said Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson. "Please help us in implementing this recommendation, we want to keep those as a voluntary measure, not a mandated measure."
Lowndes County Commission Chairman Bill Slaughter says all businesses are essential to the community, but these efforts are meant to limit areas of high exposure risk.
"This decision was not easy, and it was not taken lightly. The health effects of COVID-19 are real, and they are serious. Containment of the virus is critical to our medical system being able to respond appropriately to an outbreak, and these steps will help with that," Slaughter said.
These recommendations are intended to begin Thursday, March 19.