North Georgia residents want state parks shut down, governor says no, but crowds will be monitored

North Georgia residents want Governor Brian Kemp to shut down state parks. They say tourists from COVID-19 hot zones are coming into their small communities and bringing the virus with them. But Wednesday, Governor Kemp said the parts are staying open.

"This little town can't be an escape route for coronavirus refugees," said White County resident Susan Garrity.

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When people started flooding state parks in North Georgia to escape the statewide "sheltering at home", White County resident Susan Garrity started a Facebook group saying the state parks need to be shut down.

"We just can't handle it, our services are stretched thin, our hospitals are at capacity," said Garrity.

SEE ALSO: Kemp extending Georgia's shelter-in-place order until April 30

Ashley Howdershelt shut down her business, Van Zandt's Grill and Grocery, in Blue Ridge, fearing her regular customers and family could contract the Coronavirus from visitors coming from COVID-19 hot zones.

"We're willing to pay that price and not have our business open right now to keep our family safe," said Howdershelt.

Leaders in 12 north Georgia counties sent a letter to Governor Kemp urging him to close state parks so the tourists will stay away.

"It's really more of a safe and wellbeing concern," Commission Chairman Stacy Hall.

Wednesday, Governor Kemp said the parks will stay open. He says authorities are keeping an eye on the crowds.

"They're checking state parks, looking at parking at boat ramps and if something gets out of control and Georgians are not following the directives and social distancing, then we'll shut those down in the future, but right now people are behaving," said Governor Kemp.

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The decision isn't going over well with those in north Georgia.

"We were only asking for a few weeks, to get a break so we can flatten the curve and get back to our visitors in the summertime," said Garrity.

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