TIFTON — The Tifton City Council held an emergency called meeting via teleconference at 2 p.m. on Monday, Mar. 23 to enact an ordinance instituting emergency measures to halt the spread of COVID-19.

These measures include a shelter in place order, requiring all but essential businesses to close and banning public or private gatherings of any number of people outside a household.

Tifton Mayor Julie Smith said that the ordinance will not take effect until 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Mar. 24.

A press release from the City of Tifton states that the order  will be in effect until 11:59 p.m. on Apr. 7, or until it is extended, rescinded, superseded, or amended by the mayor and council.

“With the situation evolving in neighboring counties the Mayor and Council believe this is the right thing to do for our community,” the release states. “The intent of the Shelter-In-Place is to ensure that the maximum number of people self-isolate in their places of residence to the maximum feasible extent, while enabling essential services to continue, to slow the spread of COVID-19 to the maximum extent possible.”

Restaurants may only provide drive-thru, pickup/curbside and delivery services. Bars, gyms, hair and nail salons, and similar businesses will continue to fall under the temporary closure order.

Funeral homes may continue to operate, but visitation will be limited to immediate family and services limited to graveside services.

According to the release, the order does not apply to those traveling to work in an essential business or essential government function, including health care operations, essential infrastructure, including construction, operation of public transportation and utilities, internet and telecommunications systems, first responders, emergency management, grocery stores, food banks, convenience stores, food cultivation including farming, media, gas stations and auto supply facilities, pharmacies, healthcare supply stores and healthcare facilities, auto repair facilities, banks and related financial institutions via the drive-thru, hardware stores, service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the sanitation and essential operation of residences, businesses that provide necessities of life for economically disadvantaged individuals and shelter facilities and businesses that supply other essential businesses with supplies necessary to operate and supply products needed for people to work from home.

“We encourage patrons who must visit essential businesses to practice social distancing and keep a six-foot distance from others,” the release states.

Part of the ordinance enacted amends the city’s municipal code to include measures to deal with emergency conditions.

“We discovered this morning that our ordinances do not contain emergency measures,” City Manager Pete Pyrzenski said.

This new ordinance will allow the mayor and city council to declare a state of emergency in the event of “actual or impending emergency or disaster of natural or human origin, or pandemic influenza emergency, or a public health emergency, within or affecting the City of Tifton.”

Once the state of emergency is declared, the council will have the option to impose a curfew, order business to close, close public streets, mobilize law enforcement agencies and any other measures deemed necessary.

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