COVINGTON, Ga. — The Newton County Board of Commissioners held an emergency meeting via teleconference Wednesday evening to modify the shelter at home ordinance the county put in place March 25.
The commissioners passed an amendment updating the dates and statistics listed in the original ordnance to better reflect the latest information regarding the impact of COVID-19. They also made three notable modifications to the ordinance, which are as follows:
- Religious assemblies are encouraged to voluntarily limit activities to no more than 10 people.
- Funeral homes and crematories are to limit attendance at funeral services, visitations or other gatherings to the maximum number recommended by either the CDC or President Trump. As of Wednesday, April 1, that number is 10.
- Outdoor recreational businesses and businesses licensed to sell firearms and ammunition are considered essential and are permitted to stay open, so long as they follow the six-feet social distancing requirements.
These changes were largely influenced by the modifications the city of Covington made to its shelter at home ordinance Friday, March 27.
Following these amendments, the commissioners added language authorizing the Newton County Sheriff's Office to enforce the Shelter in Place Ordinance. Discretion is advised for the Sheriff's Office when making arrests for criminal activity considered less serious while enforcing the ordinance.
The commissioners also approved additional temporary funding for the Sheriff’s Office to help cover costs related to COVID-19. They agreed to set aside up to $164,685 per month to go toward supporting nursing at the Newton County Jail and paying school resource officers, as well as auto repairs, fuel and overtime for patrol deputies.
Sheriff Ezell Brown noted an additional pod has been opened in the jail and is being used as a quarantine unit for inmates infected with COVID-19. Additionally, overtime has increased in recent weeks due to the necessity for more staffing to take temperatures and cleaning.