North Georgia tourist town with a German flair is practically shut down in the midst of the pandemic

Most of us think of Helen, Georgia as that quaint mountain town with a German flair. A quick getaway from metro Atlanta.  But now, in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, this German town is more like a ghost town.

"We're a tourist town. You got the beautiful mountains and the Chattahoochee River.  You can hunt and fish.  We love to have the visitors here, that's how we keep the city going," said Mayor Steve Fowler.

Every year 3 million people visit Helen, Georgia.  But right now, in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, shops and restaurants are closed. Hotels are vacant.

"We've got about 1300 rooms in hotels and another 12 or 1500 short terms rentals, cabins.  That's a lot of people that's not here now," said Mayor Fowler.

At the Helendorf River Inn that sits along the Chattahoochee River, all 99 rooms are empty.

"We had anticipated having a large houseful of guests coming in from all over the southeast," said owner Catherine Cleiman.

Instead, owner Catherine Cleiman has been busy canceling and rescheduling guests, and trying to stay optimistic that this pandemic will be over before the summer season kicks in.

"Hopefully in the next few weeks we'll have our doors open again and all the people who have been staying with us for generations will be back in their favorite room wih their feet propped up by the river," said Cleiman.

Mayor Steve Fowler says not many people in this tourist town are working right now.  Instead, they're making repairs and fixing up their places, so they're ready to welcome the tourists back.

"We don't want them to stay gone any longer than they have to, we want them back and we're going to work so we can be ready for them," said Mayor Fowler.

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