The Fayetteville City Council at a called meeting on Wednesday afternoon repealed last week’s emergency ordinance dealing with COVID-19 and adopted one that allowed more businesses to stay open, with restrictions, and requested that city residents practice voluntary sheltering at home.
One of the changes in the new ordinance that takes effect April 2 and extends through April 16, and which mirrors an ordinance adopted by the Fayette County Commission, was a request for city residents to consider voluntarily staying in their homes. Exceptions included:
• When a person is on an errand necessitated due to an emergency or engaged in procuring or seeking an essential service;
• When a person is traveling or returning directly home from lawful employment or otherwise engaged in lawful employment that makes it necessary to leave home;
• When a person is engaged in interstate and intrastate vehicular travel through the county;
• When a person is procuring essential food or medicine or seeking essential medical care or providing essential food, medicine or medical care to another person; or
• Personal or family activities such as walking, jogging and cycling.
Another change from the previous ordinance, now repealed, deals with for former categorization of businesses that are “essential” or “non-essential.”
Under the new ordinance, and noted as “Other Businesses” the ordinance reads: “All employers and businesses which remain open for use by the public must take the necessary steps to reduce in-person contact and maintain a distance of six feet between individuals while in the establishment.
“In addition, said establishments must post signage on entrance doors informing customers to maintain at least six feet of personal distance between themselves and others, and shall not allow any more than 10 people into such establishment at any one time if such social distancing cannot be maintained.”
Another ordinance provision, one dealing with restaurants and businesses selling food for consumption on the premises, states that those businesses will be closed for in-person dining but can offer food for take-away. Those open for take-out must ensure a six-foot personal distance.
Stipulated in the ordinance were the following:
• All restaurants or businesses who sell food or beverages for consumption on premises shall be closed to in-person dining, consumption of alcohol or other business activities until the expiration of this declaration of emergency; provided that this requirement shall not apply to any retail grocery stores so long as they have discontinued and closed any areas designated for the consumption of food on the premises.
• Restaurants or businesses that sell food may offer food for take-away or for customers to eat somewhere other than at the establishment.
– Businesses affected by these closures shall establish systems that ensure that all onsite consumption of food is prohibited and that patrons, employees and contractors of the business maintain at least six feet of personal distance between themselves as much as possible given the physical constraints of the premises.
• If a restaurant is licensed by the City of Fayetteville to sell beer and wine for on-premises consumption, such business during the efficacy of this declaration only, shall be authorized to sell unopened bottles of beer or wine for take-out consumption off-premises. Any alcohol licensee who engages in a course of conduct permitted under this ordinance does so at the licensee’s own peril as it concerns the licensee’s state liquor license. This ordinance makes no representation as to the legality, under state law, and state alcohol licenses of any course of conduct undertaken pursuant to this ordinance.
Other types of businesses must close for the duration of the ordinance effective period due to the close proximity of others that occurs.
Those include gyms, studios or sports clubs offering exercise equipment, shared activity spaces or close contact sports. Others included in the ordinance are businesses offering massage, manicure, hairstyling or personal grooming, event facilities and event spaces.
The ordinance also prohibits assemblies, event and gatherings, stating that all public or private gatherings of 10 people or more occurring outside a household or living unit unless they can assure spacing of at least six feet between people at all times.
The ordinance notes it does not apply to gatherings of individuals for the purposes of carrying on business certified as “essential” by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency or designated by the Governor as “critical infrastructure” or the provision of medical or health services.
The council will likely meet prior to the April 16 expiration to consider whether the ordinance should be terminated or extended.