LOGANVILLE, Ga. — In a historic meeting conducted by a digital conference, city leaders passed emergency orders due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Loganville City Council met Monday morning through Zoom, a video communications system. The meeting wasn’t without glitches — it reached capacity with some councilmembers actually being kicked off the meeting — but it’s a new reality in an age of social distancing.
City Manager Danny Roberts noted the difficulty of planning around the health crisis declared by both the president and governor.
“This changes every single day,” he said. “One thing that’s said today may change tomorrow.”
Georgia had 800 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Monday night, including 35 in Gwinnett County, where the western portion of Loganville lies. A first case involving a Walton County resident was announced at noon Tuesday.
The city’s ordinance gives Roberts the authority to make emergency purchases of supplies, services or construction items, and purchasing approval authority above normal spending limits shall be provided to Mayor Rey Martinez for approval.
Late fees for water and sewer accounts are waived.
Restaurants that are allowed to sell beer and wine for on-premises consumption now may sell unopened bottles for take-out consumption when accompanied with an order of food.
The ordinance also makes clear the chain of command. Should Roberts be unable to perform his duties, the public utilities director steps in, and failing that, responsibility falls to the police chief.
The ordinance expires at 9 a.m. April 22 unless terminated or extended by further action of the council.
Roberts noted an emergency ordinance does not give the city the right to levy taxes or extend franchises.
“This is really just for public health and safety,” he said.
In other business, Municipal Court sessions have been suspended and many employees are being given the chance to work from home. Roberts said the police and fire services remain active, but their headquarters are locked down to the public.