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Covington, Newton County pass joint resolutions issuing shelter at home ordinance

COVINGTON, Ga. — In a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Newton County Board of Commissioners and Covington City Council passed joint resolutions Wednesday, March 25, issuing a shelter at home ordinance for residents of Newton County and the city of Covington. 

All citizens of Newton County and Covington must maintain a minimum of six feet of separation from other people when outside their home.

This ordinance will go into effect at 12 a.m. on Thursday, March 26, and will end at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7. The end date may be altered by way of being extended, rescinded, superseded or amended in writing by the Chairman and Board.

“This is a serious time we are dealing with,” Chairman Marcello Banes said via telecast during an emergency meeting Wednesday. “I believe not many of us has seen this type of activity before and this type of outcry. I believe we do have to take the necessary steps to make sure our citizens not only feel safe but are safe, and [I] believe we have done that with this resolution.”

The adopted resolutions state that people currently living within the territorial limits of Newton County and/or Covington “shall shelter at their place of residence.”

 Essential travel — which is defined as “travel to an essential business, to care for another person, for a health care need, to obtain or deliver necessary services or supplies, to engage in outdoor activity, to work at an essential business or to perform minimum basis operations at a business closed to the public” — is exempt from the Shelter in Place mandate.

Individuals are also permitted to leave their residence only to perform what are considered to be “Essential Activities.” Exceptions listed in the joint resolutions are as follows:

- To take part in activities or perform tasks that are essential to either the individual's health and safety, or the health and safety of their family, household members, partners, significant others or pets.

- To obtain necessary services or supplies for either themselves and their family or household members, or to deliver said services or supplies to others.

- To engage in outdoor activity such as walking, hiking, running or bicycling, provided the individual complies with all mandated social distancing measures. 

- To work providing essential products and services at an approved essential business, or to otherwise engage activities specifically permitted in the ordinance. 

- To provide care for a family member or pet in another household.

Public parks will be closed as of 12 a.m. Thursday, March 26. However, walking trails and sidewalks will remain open.

All non-essential businesses are ordered to close. The resolutions define 22 categories of essential businesses, including health care, grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, hardware stores and more.

A full draft of the resolution — which includes a complete list of definitions and exemptions — may be found on Newton County’s website and on the City of Covington, GA - Government’s Facebook page.