SOUTH FULTON, Ga. - The City of South Fulton has declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus outbreak, leading to the banning of many public gatherings and a curfew in place for the city.
“We are not afraid to be a leader in the state. We have to look to protect our most vulnerable communities which is our elderly communities,” said South Fulton Police Chief Keith Meadows.
On Tuesday, the South Fulton City Council said they declared the state of emergency "in the best interests of the health and general welfare of the City, it's residents and general public."
Under the new orders, which are effective immediately, all city meetings are canceled until further notice.
The city has also banned any gatherings or events that include 10 or more people in South Fulton until the resolution is removed.
“You’ve got to just go with the flow and hopefully they can get rid of this as soon as possible,” said South Fulton resident Larry Riley.
“If anything is going to happen, it’s going be during the day not at night,” said resident Janelle Suriel. “So, it’s weird.”
Under the resolution, South Fulton officials have also issued a curfew between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. for all residents, excluding people going to and from work, emergency personnel, essential city personnel, and people making deliveries.
All nonessential businesses, outside of medical and pharmaceutical establishments, have been ordered to close in-door public access by 9 p.m. as well.
“For right now, we are not anticipating any arrests surrounding this issue,” said Chief Meadows. “If repeated violations do occur, we would look at the possibility of issuing citations.”
The order will continue indefinitely until further notice.
“We do not want to come across as an occupied force. Our primary goal is to educate,” said Chief Meadows.
“It was important for the City to enact its own emergency plan to do our part to limit the spread of COVID-19 throughout the City of South Fulton," Mayor William "Bill" Edwards said. "Some residents will like the plan and others may not, but we must take action to ensure the safety of our residents and to protect them from this virus.”
“I feel really bad for the businesses because they are already being impacted,” said Suriel.
“It’s teamwork, everyone needs to come together to get rid of this,” said Riley.
As of Wednesday, March 18, Fulton County had 49 positive cases of the coronavirus in the county - the most of any county in the state.
South Fulton joins cities such as Brookhaven and East Point, and counties including Douglas and Gwinnett to have declared a state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic.
On Saturday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms declared a state of emergency for Georgia's capital, limiting public gatherings of 50 people or more.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a public health state of emergency as well on Saturday after reports of 64 confirmed cases of the virus in the state. That number has since increased to nearly 200 on Wednesday.
"This public health emergency is unprecedented for the State of Georgia, and I do not take this action lightly," Kemp said after signing the declaration.
Measures you can take to prevent the spread of coronavirus:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- If you have recently returned from a country with ongoing COVID-19 infections monitor your health and follow the instructions of public health officials
You can find CDC safety guidelines can be found online here.