Murray photo

Officials in Chatsworth, Eton and Murray County have declared a state of emergency because of the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19). Among the measures those governments have adopted to try to slow the spread of the virus is banning on-premises dining at restaurants. Here, Brittney Scott puts a pizza in the oven at Little Rome in Chatsworth.

With business already down 80%, Teresa Morrison, owner of the the Village Cafeteria in Chatsworth, said she's concerned about state and local measures that limit restaurants to delivery, drive-through and takeout only, banning customers from dining on the premises.

"Gov. Kemp is only going to do it for 10 days from what I've heard," she said. "But the city and county are doing it for 30 days. Our customers have supported us for 34 years. I believe they will support us through this."

On Thursday, Murray County Sole Commissioner Greg Hogan signed an order declaring a state of emergency in the county because of the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19). While Hogan did not say much during Thursday's meeting, in a Wednesday meeting he said, "Health and safety are our No. 1 priority."

As of noon Thursday, there were six confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Murray County. But in his Wednesday meeting, Hogan noted that "thousands" of Murray County residents travel each day out of the county to work or shop and could be exposed to the virus.

Chatsworth Mayor K.W. Gong and Eton Mayor Billy Cantrell have also signed such orders. The language of the three orders and the limits they place on social interaction are largely the same.

"We coordinated together on this," said Gong.

"We felt that it was important to have a clear and consistent message," said Cantrell. "That way people will know what is expected of them whether they are up here or in Chatsworth or in any other part of the county."

In addition to banning on-premises dining at restaurants, the orders bar public gatherings on county- or city-owned property, all gatherings of more than 10 people outside of households or living units, and require that businesses post signs reminding people to remain six feet apart and if they cannot maintain that distance to allow no more than 10 people into the business at one time.

Dalton and Whitfield County adopted similar restrictions last month, including closing restaurants to on-premises dining. Those restrictions will remain in place at least until April 30.

"I think most of our businesses are already doing this," said Cantrell, when asked why officials in Murray County had not previously adopted such measures. "But you've got a few who aren't, and this is more for them."

The orders also give the county commissioner and the mayors the authority to classify services in their jurisdictions as "required" and "discretionary," to assign workers to those services and periodically review those services, and to temporarily suspend discretionary services if they believe that is warranted.

Hogan's order took effect immediately and will last for 30 days. The city orders both take effect at midnight Friday and will last for 30 days.

The two city orders "toll" or pause the deadlines for obtaining occupation tax certificates or similar permits for the length of the state of emergency plus 15 days.

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