19 March 2020

TPC - Covington Council Enacts Voluntary Curfew; Votes to Ban Groups of 10 Persons or More

Restaurant Owners & Hairdressers Say Their Businesses Will Be Decimated 

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A RESOLUTION PROHIBITING GATHERINGS DURING LOCAL STATE OF EMERGENCY RELATED TO COVID-19; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
WHEREAS, Covington, Georgia has experienced an event of critical significance as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease (“COVID-19”); and
WHEREAS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (the “CDC”) indicates that COVID-19 is a new and contagious respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in China and which has now been detected in more than 100 locations internationally, including in the United States; and
WHEREAS, as reported by the World Health Organization (“WHO”), the world has experienced a deep humanitarian crisis with more than 191,000 cases and more than 7,000 deaths due to COVID-19; and
WHEREAS, COVID-19 is officially a global pandemic according to the WHO; and
WHEREAS, President Trump has declared a national emergency for the United States of America in response to COVID-19; and
WHEREAS, on March 14, 2020, Governor Brian Kemp declared a public health state of emergency due to COVID-19; and
WHEREAS, as reported by the Georgia Department of Public Health effective as of March 19, 2020, Georgia now has 287 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and ten (10) COVID-19 related deaths and the number is increasing daily; and
WHEREAS, the CDC and Georgia Department of Public Health have issued guidance on the emerging and rapidly evolving situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, including how to protect oneself from illness; and
WHEREAS, social distancing is recommended by the CDC and Georgia Department of Public Health to prevent the continued spreading of the illness in the community; and
WHEREAS, Atlanta, Athens-Clarke County, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Washington, New York and California have all banned large public gatherings in public places during the COVID-19 pandemic; and
WHEREAS, New Jersey has recently enacted a statewide curfew to help curb the spread of COVID-19; and
WHEREAS, the CDC expects that additional cases of COVID-19 will be identified in the coming days, including more cases in the United States, and that person-to-person spread is likely to continue to occur; and
WHEREAS, if COVID-19 spreads in Covington and the rest of Georgia, at a rate comparable to the rate of spread in other affected areas, it may greatly strain the resources and capabilities of county and municipal governments, including public health agencies, that provide essential services for containing and mitigating the spread of contagious diseases, such as COVID-19, and the situation may become too large in scope to be handled in its entirety by the normal county and municipal operating services in some parts of this State, and this situation may spread to other parts of the State; and
WHEREAS, the Charter of the City of Covington, in Sections 1.07(q) grants to the City the power to protect the safety, health, peace, good order, and general welfare of the public; and
WHEREAS, the code of ordinances of the City of Covington, at Section 2.52.040 grants to the mayor of Covington the power to determine that an emergency exists, and the Mayor of Covington joins in execution of this resolution to evidence that determination by him individually; and
WHEREAS, the Mayor and Council of the City of Covington, Georgia did, on March 16, 2020, declare that a local state of public health emergency exists within the territorial limits of the City of Covington, Georgia due to COVID-19; and
WHEREAS, the Mayor and Council of the City of Covington find that the present state of emergency requires extraordinary and immediate corrective actions for the protection of the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Covington and the surrounding communities; and
WHEREAS, to prevent or minimize injury to people resulting from this event, certain actions are required, including but not limited to, a curfew and prohibition on gatherings;
NOW, THEREFORE, the Mayor and Council of the City of Covington, Georgia hereby ordains that it is hereby.
THEREFORE, IT IS RESOLVED:
1. The City Council adopts and makes the findings discussed in the “Whereas” paragraphs the factual findings of the Council.
2. The City Council hereby reaffirms its determination of March 16, 2020 that a local state of public health emergency exists within the territorial limits of the City of Covington, Georgia due to COVID-19.
3. That the Mayor or, in the event of his disability, the City Manager, shall have the authority to request that the Newton County Health Department activate the Covington-Newton County Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Operations as necessary to address the current public health emergency.
4. The City Council and all other boards, commissions or agencies of the City, shall have authority to conduct meetings and take votes by teleconference in accordance with O.C.G.A. Section 50-14-1(g).
5. The Mayor, or in the event of his disability, the City Manager, shall have authority to take such actions deemed necessary or appropriate for the public health and safety of the citizens of the City of Covington in accordance with section 2.52.040 of Chapter 2.52 of the Covington code of ordinances.
6. That in accordance with section 2.52.040 of Chapter 2.52 of the Covington code of ordinances:
(a) Voluntary Shelter in Place: Beginning at 9:00 P.M. on Friday, March 20, 2020, and concluding at 5:00 A.M. on Tuesday, April 7, 2020, unless otherwise extended, a voluntary shelter in place policy is hereby implemented requesting the persons not loiter, wander, stroll, or play in any public place within the territorial limits of Covington, provided, however, that the provisions of this section shall not apply in the following instances:
i. When a person is upon an emergency errand;
ii. When a person is traveling to, or returning directly home from, lawful employment or otherwise engaged in lawful employment that makes it necessary to be in above referenced places during the proscribed period of time;
iii. When a person is attending or traveling directly to or from an activity involving the exercise of First Amendment rights of free speech, freedom of assembly, or free exercise of religion;
iv. When a person is engaged in interstate and intrastate vehicular travel through Covington, Georgia;
v.. When a person is walking, biking or running to or from their residence for recreational or fitness purposes; and
vi.. When a person is procuring food or medicine or seeking medical care.
(b) Prohibition on Gatherings: Beginning at 9:00 P.M. on Friday, March 20, 2020, and concluding at 5:00 A.M. on Tuesday, April 7, 2020, unless otherwise extended, all public assemblages, events, and gatherings within the territorial limits of the City of Covington of more than ten (10) or people shall be prohibited, not including employees in restaurants, bars, and/or entertainment establishments and exempting gatherings within buildings owned by the City of Covington, Newton County, Georgia, the State of Georgia or any hospital or healthcare facility.
(c) If a restaurant is licensed to sell beer and wine for on-premises consumption, such restaurant, during the effective dates of this Resolution only, shall be authorized to sell unopened bottles of beer or wine currently in inventory as of this date for take-out consumption off-premises.
(d) The due date and payment of alcohol excise taxes of restaurants licensed to sell alcoholic beverages pursuant to Article 3 of Chapter 5.12 of the Covington code of ordinances shall be delayed through and until June 30, 2020 and shall not be subject to penalties or interest. Any alcohol excise taxes of restaurants that accrue and are unpaid during the period until June 30, 2020 shall be paid to the City in six (6) equal installments in the months of July through December. All alcohol excise taxes of restaurants shall be due and payable in the normal procedure beginning July 1, 2020.
7. It is hereby declared to be the intention of the Mayor and Council:
(a) That all sections, paragraphs, sentences, clauses, and phrases of this Resolution are and were, upon their enactment, believed by the Mayor and Council to be fully valid, enforceable, and constitutional.
(b) That, to the greatest extent allowed by law, each and every section, paragraph, sentence, clause or phrase of this Resolution is severable from every other section, paragraph, sentence, clause or phrase of this Resolution. It is hereby further declared to be the intention of the Mayor and Council that, to the greatest extent allowed by law, no section, paragraph, sentence, clause or phrase of this Resolution is mutually dependent upon any other section, paragraph, sentence, clause or phrase of this Resolution.
(c) That, in the event that any phrase, clause, sentence, paragraph or section of this Resolution shall, for any reason whatsoever, be declared invalid, unconstitutional or otherwise unenforceable by the valid judgment or decree of any court of competent jurisdiction, it is the express intent of the Mayor and Council that such invalidity, unconstitutionality or unenforceability shall, to the greatest extent allowed by law, not render invalid, unconstitutional or otherwise unenforceable any of the remaining phrases, clauses, sentences, paragraphs or sections of the Resolution and that, to the greatest extent allowed by law, all remaining phrases, clauses, sentences, paragraphs, and sections of the Resolution shall remain valid, constitutional, enforceable, and of full force and effect.
8. All ordinances or parts of ordinances in conflict with the provisions of this Resolution are hereby suspended during the effective dates of this Resolution (or any extension thereof) and the terms and provisions of this Resolution shall prevail.
9. This Resolution shall become effective immediately upon its adoption.
10. The City Clerk, in consultation with the City Attorney, shall have the power to correct scriveners’ errors.
SO ORDERED AND ORDAINED this 19 day of March, 2020.

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