Butts BOC Chair Ken Rivers.jpg

The Butts County Board of Commissioners have amended their Declaration of Local Emergency to: prohibit community gatherings of 10 or more people; require bars, taverns, nightclubs and similar establishments outside of city limits to be closed; require restaurants outside of city limits to close to the public except to provide takeout, delivery, drive-through, or curbside service; and require all businesses remaining open to ensure everyone in them remain six feet apart as much as possible.

The amended declaration began March 24 and will end at 11:59 p.m. on April 4, unless further extended by a supplemental resolution.

Chairman Ken Rivers, acting under the Emergency Management Plan for Butts County, signed the amended Local State of Emergency Declaration on March 24, which supersedes the declaration passed on March 18. Since that original declaration, a total of 2 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been documented in Butts County. It was originally reported that there were four but the state notified the county on March 25 that this was in error.

While this declaration is considered a standard procedure in circumstances where both the federal and state governments have passed declarations, the amended declaration adds several provisions that go into effect immediately. These only apply to areas of the unincorporated county and do not cover the three cities, which are subject to their governance and codes. These are outlined here:

♦ First, all public or private community gatherings of more than 10 people anywhere within the unincorporated area of Butts County are prohibited for the duration of this State of Emergency. A “community gathering” shall be defined as any indoor or outdoor event, meeting, or convening of people, subject to the exceptions below, that brings together 10 or more persons at the same time in a single room or other single confined or enclosed space such as an auditorium, stadium (indoor or outdoor), tent, arena, event center, music venue, meeting, hall, conference center, cafeteria or other similar space.

A community gathering does not include the following or similar uses, so long as persons attending the same are generally not within 6 feet of each other for extended periods:

♦ Governmental operations.

♦ Child-care or adult-care facilities, residential buildings or any type of temporary sheltering or housing. These are handled in other statutes.

♦ Grocery stores or pharmacies.

♦ Hospital or medical facilities.

♦ Educational institutions engaged in medical, engineering, or other efforts by students or faculty to deal with the impact of COVID-19.

♦ Second, restaurants shall close to the public except to provide takeout, delivery, drive-through, or curbside service. Dining on the premises is prohibited.

Restaurants which are licensed under the County Code of Ordinances for the sale of malt beverages and/or wine by the drink for consumption on premises may sell malt beverages and/or wine in sealed containers by the package without obtaining any additional license.

Cafeterias in hospitals, nursing homes, educational facilities, or similar facilities shall not be subject to the restrictions contained in this order.

♦ Third, except for food service establishments licensed by the Department of Public Health and which meet the definition of such as defined in the Butts County Code of Ordinances, all businesses licensed for the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on premises, such as bars, taverns, nightclubs and similar establishments, shall be closed for business.

♦ Fourth, all retail, commercial, or industrial establishments currently remaining open, subject to future orders by the county, state or federal government, shall observe the following restrictions:

♦ Reasonable steps shall be taken to ensure customers, employees and other persons on the premises shall generally not be within six (6) feet of each other for longer than brief periods and

♦ Employees are not permitted to work if they are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or residing with anybody exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.

♦ Fifth, all permits for special events, including park facility rentals, are hereby cancelled, and no new special event permits shall be authorized for the duration of the State of Emergency.

♦ Finally, all deadlines of any action, determination, or decision required of any official, board or commission under the Butts County Commissioners and the provisions of the Butts County Code of Ordinances shall be suspended for the duration of this state of emergency and for 30 days following the expiration of it. This does not apply to agencies not under the Board of Commissioners, including Tax Assessors and Tax Commissioner, which fall under state regulations and rules.

All deadlines imposed under the Butts County Code of Ordinances, relating to the renewal of business licenses, shall be suspended for the duration of this Order and for 30 days following the expiration of this Order.

The Board of Commissioners Office remains in close contact with the Department of Public Health, as well as other State agencies during this crisis. We ask that all citizens take the recommendations of credible public health sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and the Georgia Department of Public Health seriously and exercise all prudent caution in taking steps to limit exposure to this virus. The county continues to operate as normally as possible and our public safety forces are actively working to continue protecting our citizens, their property and well-being.

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