The Dahlonega City Council will be discussing whether or not to amend the State of Emergency Declaration and Ordinance, that they unanimously passed last week, to include more restrictions due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.
Lumpkin County, at press time, had 8 confirmed cases of the virus. And the city council’s concerns were amplified this past weekend when large groups of out-of-towners and locals alike flocked to Lake Zwerner at the Yahoola Creek Reservoir, the trails of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest and even parking lots of convenience stores in the area.
“Based on what I’ve been reading, anywhere from 140 to 1,000 people in Dahlonega could die if we do nothing,” said council member Roman Gaddis when the original ordinance was passed last week.
The influx of people in places that the city, the county and the USDA Forest Service had officially closed before the weekend alarmed city council members and prompted concerns over whether the restrictions they had imposed the week previous were enough.
Mayor Sam Norton took to social media to voice the concerns of the council in a video on Facebook, giving Dahlonega residents a hint of stricter policies to come.
“Some of the items that will be on the agenda and voted on will be some more restrictive business models which would include the closing of some businesses like day cares, nail salons, tanning salons, spas and massage venues,” said Norton in the video. “Other more restrictive business models would include hair salons and convenient stores. Also on the agenda would be an order to shelter-in-place and a citywide curfew. None of these will be in effect until voted on by the council.”
The council would have to vote to allow Norton the authority to enact a shelter-in-place order or to enact a curfew in the city if they deem the restrictions necessary to combat the spread of COVID-19.
In a text to The Nugget on Saturday, March 28, councilman Ariemma voiced his concerns over the health of employees of “non-essential” businesses.
“Went to DQ with my wife,” the text read. “Drive-thru, that is. No telling how many people this young man at the window was exposed to today. Here’s a big problem. We need to close all non-essentials. Time to close Dahlonega, and the county needs to be with us on this.”
DOING OUR PART
Ariemma also voiced his frustration concerning people not properly social distancing during this pandemic.
“I’m seeing too many bad practices going on,” he stated. “Too many tourists showing up, we need to discourage this.”
When the State of Emergency was proclaimed the previous week, council members JoAnne Taylor and Roman Gaddis had both voiced their concerns that Declaration and Ordinance 2020-18 wasn’t strict enough when it passed unanimously.
“The governor has hockey-pucked this to us by not setting uniform policies to protect our communities,” said Gaddis. “I wonder if what we are doing is enough. This is a global pandemic and we have to do our part to protect our community.”
The council is likely to discuss whether or not to amend its original proclamation to impose one or more of the restrictions Norton spoke of when they meet today, April 1, for its weekly special called virtual meeting on the ZOOM app at 4 p.m.
After discussions, the council will vote to amend Declaration 2020-18 with whatever new restrictions they deem necessary to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Dahlonega and Lumpkin County.