The Fannin County Board of Commissioners declared a local State of Emergency related to COVID-19 Wednesday, March 25 and encouraged residents to shelter in place.
The emergency ordinance states that "all non-essential businesses are encouraged to close, work remotely, or at a minimum practice social distancing within the work place.”
According to the ordinance, essential businesses include the following:
- Health care operations and essential infrastructure;
- Grocery stores, farmers markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores, and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supply, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, and any other household consumer products (such as cleaning and personal are products). This includes stores that sell groceries and also sell other non-grocery products, and products necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences;
- Food cultivation, including farming, livestock, and fishing;
- Businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals;
- Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services;
- Gas stations and auto-supply, auto repair, and related facilities;
- Banks and related financial institutions, including pawn stores;
- Hardware stores;
- Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences and essential businesses;
- Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes;
- Educational institutions, including public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities, for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions, provided that social distancing of six feet person is maintained to the greatest extent possible;
- Laundromats, dry cleaners and laundry service providers;
- Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or carry out (cafeterias in hospitals, nursing homes, or similar facilities shall not be subject to the restrictions contained in the ordinance);
- Businesses that supply products needed for people to work from home;
- Businesses that supply other essential businesses with the support supplies necessary to operate;
- Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to residences;
- Home-based care for seniors, adults and children;
- Professional services, such as legal or accounting services;
- Childcare facilties;
- Construction services; and
- Utility, water, sewer, gas, electrical, oil refining, roads and highways, railroads, public transportation, taxi/rideshare, solid waste collection and removal, internet, and telecommunications systems (including the provision of essential global, national, and local infrastructure for computing services, business infrastructure, communications, and web based services).
The provisions listed in the ordinance will not apply to authorized and essential law enforcement personnel, health care providers, personnel of the county, National Guard or federal military personnel, firefighters, emergency response personnel, personnel or volunteers working with or through the county emergency management agency (EMA), utility crews, citizens seeking to restore order to their homes or businesses on their own property or place of business, and other authorized and essential persons as designated on a list complied by EMA, the Director of Public Safety or Sheriff Dane Kirby.
The ordinance states that there shall be no public gatherings, defined as an organized gathering of 10 or more people, on any property owned or controlled by the county, however this does not include individual or family use of sidewalks or designated pedestrian areas of parks for walking or other exercise if they are not participating in an organized gathering.
All businesses that provide services that normally cater to tourists, as well as Fannin County residents, are prohibited while the ordinance is in place.
This includes, but is not limited to, escape rooms, miniature golf, zip-lines, all water related activities, movie theaters and concerts.
Any person who is a resident of a state, county or city subject to a stay-at-home order or a stay-at-home restriction, who is not currently physically present in Fannin County, will not be allowed to enter the county limits while the ordinance is in place. However, this will not prohibit vehicular traffic that remains on state or federal highways within the county and does not voluntarily stop within the county limits.
All tourism rentals have been declared non-essential businesses and must immediately cease all operations. This will not apply to customers who are currently occupying a rental under a paid reservation that was tendered before March 25. Those guests will be allowed to complete the original reservation, but will not be able to extend it. All other customers must vacate the tourism rental within 48 hours of when the ordinance went into effect.
Tourism rentals will not be allowed to accept reservations during the state of emergency and must alert any potential customers that there is a possibility the ordinance could be extended.
The Fannin County Emergency Management Service will be allowed to activate a curfew if they feel it is needed. In order to do this, they must notify the board at least 24 hours before it is implemented and post a notification to the Nixle alert system at least 12 hours prior to the curfew's implementation. If enacted, the curfew will be imposed from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
According to Chairman Stan Helton, any violations of the ordinance will be punishable by a civil fine of $1,000 per violation.
The emergency ordinance went into effect with its passage and will remain in effect through midnight, Monday, April 13 unless it is extended or repealed.