The city of Franklin Springs has declared a public health state of emergency.
FRANKLIN SPRINGS – The city of Franklin Springs has declared a public health state of emergency.
At noon on Wednesday, the Franklin Springs City Council met in an emergency meeting via Zoom to declare a public health state of emergency for the city, just like many other cities throughout the state of Georgia.
Lavonia and Royston each issued similar declarations April 3.
The city’s state of emergency will be in effect for the next 30 days, unless restrictions are lifted by Gov. Brian Kemp.
The declaration means that no public gatherings of 10 or more people can take place on city property, which includes any park, public square, public space, playground, recreational area or similar place of public gathering.
The declaration does not prohibit individuals or families from using sidewalks or designated pedestrian areas of parks for walking or other exercise if they are not participating in an organized gathering.
Access to City Hall has been restricted to city employees as well.
Until the emergency is over, the city will not disconnect any public utility service provided by the city for non-payment.
Once the emergency is over, utility customers will have 45 days to make their payments before service is disconnected.
Under the declaration, Mayor Pro-Tem Tom Wilson has the authority to categorized city services as either required or discretionary, to assign specific employees to required or discretionary services, to use his discretion to permit employees to telework, to temporarily suspend the provision of discretionary services and to direct employees who provide discretionary services not to report to work until such time as the service suspension is lifted or until such time as; the city redirects the employee to other services, to contract for and expend non-budgeted sums and services and to maintain to the best of the ability of the resources of the city the provision of essential services.
Any deadlines for purchasing or obtaining by persons or businesses of occupation tax certificates, permits or similar civil approvals mandated by the city code are delayed through the duration of the emergency and for 15 days afterwards.
Restaurants and other eating and dining establishments must cease offering dine-in services, but may continue preparing and offering food to customers via delivery, drive-through or take-out services.
Gyms, fitness centers, pools, social clubs, amusement facilities, bowling alleys, pool halls, theaters, massage parlors, mail salons and any other facility that involves prolonged physical proximity must close and remain closed for the duration of the emergency.
The complete declaration reads as follows:
CITY OF FRANKLIN SPRINGS EMERGENCY
DECLARATION AND ORDINANCE
A DECLARATION OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY ARISING
BECAUSE OF COVID-19; AN ORDINANCE TAKING
IMMEDIATE EMERGENCY MEASURES
WHEREAS, the President of the United States declared a National Public Health Emergency on March 13, 2020; and
WHEREAS, the Governor of the State of Georgia declared a State Public Health Emergency on March 14, 2020 and urged “local officials to do what’s in the best interests of their communities to keep people safe and stop the spread of coronavirus” on March 19, 2020; and
WHEREAS, the World Health Organization has declared Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) a world health emergency and a pandemic; and
WHEREAS, the number of confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 is escalating rapidly, internationally, nationally, and locally; and
WHEREAS, based upon the experience of other local governments in Georgia, a growing number of other cases are likely to occur; and
WHEREAS, on March 16, 2020, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the President of the United States stated that any gathering of over 10 people should be discontinued or prohibited; and
WHEREAS, on March 23, 2020, Governor Kemp announced that “certain individuals with an increased risk of complications from COVID-19 [were] to isolate, quarantine, or shelter in place,” covering those who “live in long-term care facilities, have chronic lung disease, are undergoing cancer treatment, have a positive COVID-19 test, are suspected to have COVID-19 because of their symptoms or exposure, or have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19”, and that the Department of Public Health would institute rules and regulations to implement such measures;
WHEREAS, on March 23, 2020, Governor Kemp additionally announced measures to “close all bars and nightclubs and …ban all gatherings of ten or more people” unless they can assure spacing for at least six (6) feet apart between people at all times beginning at noon on March 24, 2020 and lasting until noon on April 6, 2020; and
WHEREAS, public health experts, including those at the CDC and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), have advised that individuals infected with COVID-19 are contagious even while experiencing minor or no symptoms and implored leaders to take immediate action to prevent further community spread of COVID-19; and
WHEREAS, preventing and slowing community spread of COVID-19 provides health systems additional time to obtain personal protective equipment necessary to protect health care workers and medical equipment necessary to treat COVID-19, and is therefore vital to the health of the nation;
WHEREAS, in the judgment of the City Council of the City of Franklin Springs, there exists emergency circumstances located within its jurisdiction requiring extraordinary and immediate response for the protection of the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of the community, the state, and the nation; and
WHEREAS, it is essential for the governing authority of the City to act immediately in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and to prevent or minimize sickness, injury, or death, to people and damage to property resulting from this public health crisis; and
WHEREAS, O.C.G.A. § 38-3-28 provides the political subdivisions of this state with the authority to make, amend, and rescind such orders, rules, and regulations as may be necessary for emergency management purposes to supplement rules and regulations promulgated by the Governor during a State of Emergency; and
WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court has previously held that “[u]pon the principle of self-defense, of paramount necessity, a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members”; and
WHEREAS, the Charter of the City of Franklin Springs provides the governing authority of the city with the authority to take actions deemed necessary to deal with such an emergency for the protection of the safety, health, and well-being of the citizens of the city; and
NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY DECLARED that a local state of emergency exists within the City/ and shall continue until the conditions requiring this declaration are abated.
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED AND ORDAINED BY THE AUTHORITY OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF FRANKLIN SPRINGS AS FOLLOWS:
Section 1. Findings of Fact
For purposes of describing the circumstances which warrant the adoption of an emergency ordinance, the governing authority of the city hereby adopt and make the findings included in the “WHEREAS” clauses as findings of fact.
Section 2. Declaration of Public Health State of Emergency
The Franklin Springs City Council (“City”) hereby declares a public health state of emergency within the city because of the proliferation of COVID-19 in the United States and the State of Georgia, which will remain in force and effect for thirty (30) days from the date hereof.
Section 3. Public Gatherings on City Property
For the duration of the declared emergency, there shall be no public gatherings on any property owned or controlled by the City. To avoid confusion, the following definitions shall apply under this Section: a “public gathering” shall mean the organized gathering or assembly of ten (10) or more persons at a specific location; “property owned or controlled by the City” shall include any park, public square, public space, playground, recreational area, or similar place of public gathering, but nothing herein shall prohibit individuals or families from using sidewalks or designated pedestrian areas of parks for walking or other exercise if they are not participating in an organized gathering. Access to City Hall shall be restricted to City employees until further notice.
Section 4. Utility Services
For the duration of the declared emergency, the City will not disconnect any public utility service provided by the City on account of non-payment. After the conclusion of the declared emergency, persons will have a period of forty five (45) days to make such payments before service may be disconnected.
Section 5. Classification of City/ Services
For the duration of the declared emergency, the Mayor pro tem shall be vested with the following discretion and authority, to wit:
(a) To categorize City services as either “required” or “discretionary,” and to periodically review and modify such categories.
(b) To assign specific employees to required or discretionary services, and to periodically review and modify such assignments.
(c) To use his discretion to permit employees to telework.
(d) To temporarily suspend the provision of discretionary services and to direct employees who provide discretionary services not to report to work until such time as the service suspension is lifted or until such time as the City redirects the employee to other services.
(e) To contract for and expend non-budgeted sums and services, as may in his or her discretion be required to meet the demands upon government and services of the City for the duration of the declared emergency, including therein authority to spend such sums from the reserves of the City. Any such non-budgeted expenditures shall be reported to the governing authority of the City.
(f) To maintain, to the best of the ability of the resources of the City, the provision of essential services, which shall include, but not be limited to, public safety, public works, healthcare, and building permits.
Section 6. Tolling of Deadlines
Any deadlines for the purchasing or obtaining by persons or businesses of occupation tax certificates, permits or similar civil approvals mandated by the City Code shall be tolled for the duration of the emergency as established herein, and for 15 days thereafter. Such persons or businesses shall obtain necessary permissions required by law but deadlines set by the City Code are tolled for the duration of the emergency as established herein, and for 15 days thereafter.
Section 7. Eating Establishments
Restaurants and other eating and dining establishments where food is served must cease offering dine-in services but may continue preparing and offering food to customers via delivery, drive-through or take-out services. Patrons, employees and contractors of the establishments must maintain at least six (6) feet of personal distance between themselves and others.
Section 8. Closure of Certain Businesses
Gyms, fitness centers, pools, social clubs, amusement facilities, bowling alleys, pool halls, theaters, massage parlors, nail salons, and any other similar facility, any facility used for an activity that involves prolonged physical proximity of individuals, and any facility used for entertainment, social, grooming, or general health and wellbeing purposes, must close and remain closed for the duration of this emergency.
Section 9. Personal Distance
All other establishments not covered in Sections 7 or 8 of this Ordinance such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and other businesses which remain open during the emergency must post signage on entrance doors informing consumers to maintain at least six (6) feet of personal distance between themselves and others and shall not allow more than ten (10) people into such establishment at any one time if such social distancing cannot be maintained.
Section 10. Gatherings
All public and private gatherings of more than ten (10) people occurring outside of a household or living unit are prohibited. Nothing in this ordinance, however, prohibits the gathering of individuals for the purposes of carrying on business certified as “essential” by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 38-3-58, the provision of medical or health services, or critical infrastructure businesses and employees as designated by the Governor or identified by U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (as may be found in the Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response, or subsequent document).
Section 11. Emergency Interim Successor to Mayor Pro Tem
The governing authority desires to make certain that the chain of authority within City management is clear. If the Mayor pro tem is unable to perform his duties, then the individual designated by the Mayor pro tem as the Emergency Interim Successor pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 38-3-50 shall assume the duties of the Mayor pro tem.
Section 12. Procurement
The governing authority hereby suspends the bid and competitive portions of the City’s Procurement Policy or ordinances and authorize the City to utilize the single-source policy and to require departments to provide a written justification for the procurement during the effective dates of this Resolution and/or utilize any emergency procurement provisions contained. City officials shall continue to seek the best prices during the state of emergency.
All ordinances or parts of ordinances in conflict with the provisions of this Declaration are hereby suspended during the effective dates of this Declaration (or any extension thereof) and the terms and provisions of this Declaration shall prevail.
This Ordinance after adoption by the Council and upon approval by the Mayor pro tem shall become effective immediately.
ORDAINED AND RESOLVED, this ______ day of April, 2020.
Thomas Wilson, Mayor Pro Tem
Jackie Yearwood, City Clerk