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Joint State of Emergency declared
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Bryan County Commissioners on Monday night approved a resolution in conjunction with the city of Pembroke and the city of Richmond Hill declaring a state of local emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Among other things, the measure requires those who show symptoms of COVID-19, or those who test positive for it, to self-quarantine until cleared by their doctor. And it frequently mentions the need for both social distancing and repeated cleaning of facilities and equipment.

In brief, the declaration orders that restaurants and bars in both the incorporated and unincorporated areas of Bryan County reduce seating capacity to “not more than 10 persons at any one time and shall additionally ensure that all indoor and outdoor seating is sufficient to achieve 6-foot social distancing among those customers.”

Establishments that can’t meet that requirement are ordered to close.

Restaurants that provide carry out, drive through or delivery can remain open “and are encouraged to increase these services and avoid in-house dining as much as possible.”

The restrictions do not apply to cafeterias in medical, industrial or government facilities, which are encouraged to stagger meal times. Government and school sponsored food distribution programs are exempt as well, the declaration says.

Churches are also urged to limit services and instead use social media or other methods to broadcast services, and funeral homes are asked to limit funerals to graveside services of less than 10 people.

The joint declaration allows 10 or more people in places “providing essential services,” listing grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies and medical facilities, but repeatedly stresses the need for six feet of social separation and asks that residents “limit travel outside the county as much as possible.”

Publicly owned rec facilities, including playgrounds and sports fields, tennis courts and so on, are closed. Walking trails and other passive parks are open, “but the public should maintain a minimum social distancing separation of six feet,” and those facilities shouldn’t be used by people with symptoms of COVID-19.

Private fitness centers have to limit their maximum occupancy by 50 percent and ensure users are six feet apart.

The declaration doesn’t limit the county or either city to adopt tougher measures. It is affective until April 3.

Earlier Monday, Richmond Hill issued a similar declaration, and on Sunday, Richmond Hill Mayor Russ Carpenter released a statement urging that local restaurants and businesses follow social distancing directives from the CDC. Pembroke has not yet issued any such resolutions. 

Also Monday, Hinesville officials added to its list of closures, adding businesses such as barber shops, hair and nail salons and day cares to the list of closed businesses. Saturday, Hinesville closed restaurants to dine-in patrons and shut down its bars and nightclubs. Liberty County, which has had one confirmed case of COVID-19, has also issued a state of emergency.  

Many governments have begun closing meetings to the public while airing those meetings on social media, and limiting services when possible.  

On March 16, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp issued a “Public Health State of Emergency,” and has since imposed bans on large gatherings while also closing schools and authorizing the activation of up to 2,500 National Guard troops if necessary. Monday afternoon, Kemp banned large gatherings of more than 10 people and ordered the “medically fragile” to shelter in place.

 Since Kemp’s initial order, cities and counties across Georgia have been issuing such declarations and resolutions in efforts to get residents to voluntarily follow state and federal recommendations. 

 The Coastal Health District is encouraging residents to follow federal guidelines below:

 ·         Encourage those who can work from home to do so,

·         Encourage everyone to avoid unnecessarily gathering in groups of 10 or more people,

·         Encourage everyone to avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips, and social visits.

·         Encourage the use of drive-through, pick-up, or delivery options when considering food from sources outside the home.


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