JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — During an emergency meeting March 18, the Johns Creek City Council unanimously declared a city state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The council added new provisions associated with the declaration Friday when it passed a measure to prohibit restaurants from offering in-person dining.

The action follows President Donald Trump announcing a national state of emergency March 13 and Gov. Brian Kemp declaring a Georgia state of emergency March 14.

Under the provisions of the city emergency act, essential services like police and public safety will continue, while much of the city’s normal business is on hold.

During a teleconference meeting Friday, the council passed the additional restrictions that address dining establishments. Under the measure restaurants will be able to continue to offer take-out or delivery.

“The federal and state government have said that places of gathering are simply too risky in terms of person-to-person spread,” Mayor Mike Bodker said. “They recognize that there is massive economic impact to this.”

Establishments licensed to sell alcohol for consumption on premises will be able to sell unopened beer or wine for take-out or delivery. Cafeterias at hospitals and nursing homes will not be impacted.

“I hate that we’re having to take this step, but I think that everybody recognizes the need,” Councilman John Bradberry said.

The measure passed 5-2, with members Stephanie Endres and Chris Coughlin opposed. Endres said she was concerned about the loss of civil liberties and lack of input from restaurant owners. Coughlin said the measure would not be effective and that there were smarter ways to manage the pandemic that would not have such a negative impact on the livelihoods of service industry workers.

As part of the emergency act, the City Council is able to take votes by teleconference. Also, the occupation tax payment deadline was extended to May 31. The state of emergency is set to be repealed April 17 unless extended at that time.

Johns Creek City Hall is closed to the public and non-essential personnel until further notice. Johns Creek Police, Fire and emergency services will maintain operations throughout the city. If you have an emergency, call 911.

Johns Creek Municipal Court dates scheduled for March 16-27 are cancelled and will be rescheduled. Municipal Court staff will send those individuals whose courts dates are affected a notice in the mail. The March 25 STOP Class has been cancelled.

Traffic tickets and citations can be paid online at johnscreekga.gov/residents/municipal-court/pay-traffic-ticket.

Community Development will not accept any new permits or applications until further notice. The department is working to process existing permits and applications, as well as conduct building and land inspections upon receiving an inspection request. Response times may be impacted.

All Johns Creek sports leagues, recreation classes and parks programing, including those hosted by Newtown Recreation, Ocee Park Recreation and Autrey Mill Nature Preserve, have been suspended through April 12.

All park facility rentals, third-party special events in the parks and clubhouse fitness classes are also cancelled through April 12. All public tours of the fire stations have been suspended.

All Park Place programs and activities will be cancelled through March 29. Early voting has been suspended. The Georgia presidential primary is now scheduled for May 19, 2020. 

The Wall That Heals Grand Opening scheduled for March 28 will be rescheduled, while the Easter Egg Dash, Special Needs Spring Fling, Special Needs Bocce Ball and Johns Creek International Festival have all be cancelled.

On March 16, the White House issued new guidelines in an attempt to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Until the end of the month, the guidelines recommend canceling gatherings of 10 or more and canceling all gatherings in areas where there is substantial community spread.

The Centers for Disease Control also suggests people minimize trips outside their home and work remotely if possible.

Experts continue to urge those who are sick or most at risk — older adults and those with a history of heart disease, lung disease or diabetes — to stay home and for all individuals to take basic precautions like washing their hands and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.

Carson Cook is an Editor with Appen Media Group and covers Johns Creek, Dunwoody and Fulton County.

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