The Ball Ground City Council issued an emergency declaration following an emergency meeting Thursday morning in an effort to help halt the spread of COVID-19.

The declaration, which goes into effect Friday and will remain in effect through April 13 or until it is rescinded by Mayor Rick Roberts, is a stay at home order similar to what has been passed by Cherokee County and the city of Canton. Roberts said the city looked at adopting the county’s ordinance, but he and the city council felt they needed a little more specificity. To that end, Ball Ground ended up using Canton as the model for the order.

“So, what exactly is a Shelter in Place order?,” Roberts said. “It is really more of a ‘Stay at Home’ order. For many of you, this means no change. So many of you have already taken the appropriate steps. Simply stay home unless you need to leave your home for work or essential services.”

Under the order, all non-essential travel is prohibited, while businesses are required to cease all activities unless they can meet guidelines put forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the executive order approved by Gov. Brian Kemp, although businesses deemed essential (pharmacies, grocery stores and gas stations, among others) are encouraged to remain open.

While the order approved by Ball Ground is similar in many ways to what other local governments have passed, there are a few differences to it as well. One difference is that businesses, both essential and non-essential, will be allowed to remain open, but people inside them have to maintain 6-foot distancing requirements and must keep their numbers below 10 people, including employees. Businesses remaining open will have to have signs up at their facilities reminding people they will have to maintain 6 feet of separation while at the business.

“This will certainly be a challenge for essential businesses such as the pharmacy and the Dollar General as they attempt to manage customers in the checkout line and call for the 6-foot separation,” Roberts said. “Much of this, though, falls directly on you, our residents, to be mindful of the 6-foot distancing when obtaining essential services and when working. The overwhelming majority of you have already done exactly what needs to be done, and this is essential for flattening the curve and prevent overburdening our medical system.”

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