DOUGLASVILLE, GA — Douglasville’s city council unanimously approved Thursday enforcing shelter-in-place and other coronavirus restrictions recommended by the county board of health. The vote came during a called teleconference meeting broadcast via YouTube.
On Wednesday, the Douglas County Board of Health spent two hours hammering out the order, which mandates shelter-in-place, limited gatherings and closed restaurants except for takeout and delivery. At that time, 17 cases of the new coronavirus and one death related to it had been reported in Douglas County, and the intensive-care unit at WellStar Douglas Hospital already was filled to capacity.
“The number 17 doesn’t sound like a very big number, but that’s only what we know,” said Mayor Pro Tem Terry Miller. “We may have a lot more cases out there that we’re not aware of. It’s all about the math.”
The new restrictions include:
- Citizens are to shelter in place, with no unnecessary travel.
- Restaurants no longer can offer dine-in and are limited to drive-through, takeout and delivery. Restaurants already licensed to serve beer or wine can sell unopened containers for consumption off premises.
- Non-essential businesses may open between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. as long as at least 6 feet of social distancing is maintained.
“Essential” businesses include grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, media, hardware stores and plumbers — basically, all businesses required for life to go on minimally. “The definition is very broad,” said Suzan Littlefield, chief assistant city attorney.
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Council members spent much of the hour-long meeting debating what to limit and how strictly to enforce those limits. Ultimately, they decided to go with a lighter touch.
“We will be more in a compassionate mode than we will be in making arrests,” said councilman Mark Adams. He said that he saw the ordinance more as a means to inform citizens and that he hoped they would honor it “as a matter of personal responsibility.”
“We will not be arresting anyone unless they become completely disorderly,” said Douglasville police chief Gary Sparks.
“This is a very difficult thing to do,” Mayor Rochelle Robinson said of the newly endorsed restrictions. “We’ve been trying to do the best for our community, and it’s not taken lightly.”
Although Douglas County has relatively few cases thus far, she noted that it’s “nestled in” next to much harder hit counties in metro Atlanta. “The only weapon we have (in the absence of a vaccine) is social distancing,” she said.