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Curfew, masks and half-capacities continue under county resolution

Gadsden County’s state of emergency was extended by way of a resolution signed by Board of County Commission Chairman Anthony Viegbesie, on Friday, August 21.

This extension continues the original state of emergency declaration from March 20 of this year. This is in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The various mandates that the county has implemented will remain in place. These mandates cover allowed opening hours for businesses, face mask usage, group size limits, a curfew, and penalties for violating the mandates.

Per this state of emergency, gatherings of any kind will continue to be limited to 10 people, with the only exceptions being for religious services and during the use of a recreational vehicle (RV) for camping activities.

If such activities are being conducted, more than 10 people are allowed to be present together as long as they all remain in the immediate vicinity of the RV, which is defined as within 15 feet.

All gyms and fitness centers are permitted to remain open as long as proper social and personal distancing is practiced. The same goes for all camping activities within county parks and all personal services such as tattooing, piercing, acupuncture, tanning, and massage.

The mandatory wearing of cloth face coverings continues under this resolution.

However, children under two-years of age, or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, is incapacitated, or is otherwise unable to remove a mask without assistance, will not be made to wear a mask.

Restaurants, bars, and other establishments licensed to sell alcoholic beverages may operate at 50 percent of their maximum indoor capacity; they are permitted to continue providing service at bar areas, and utilize outdoor seating as long as all appropriate social and personal distancing is practiced.

Any establishment whose alcoholic beverage sales exceed 50 percent of its gross revenue are required to suspend all sales of alcohol on the premises. However, alcohol can be sold by these establishments in sealed containers for consumption off premises.

All vendors licensed as “restaurants” whose sales of alcoholic beverages make up 50 percent or less of its gross revenue can continue all sales of food and beverages.

The resolution also dictates that entertainment businesses such as movie theaters, bowling alleys, and arcades may operate at 50 percent capacity as long as proper social and personal distancing measures are followed.

All internet cafes within Gadsden County are to remain closed.

A curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. remains in place. This applies to all pedestrian and vehicle traffic excluding individuals traveling to or from their place of employment, people needing medical care, and people walking their pet.

All businesses which sell gasoline, diesel, and other fuels are exempt from the curfew order. Restaurants providing delivery, take out, drive-thru, and in-restaurant dining are also exempt.

The penalties for any violations of the mandates include a $25 fine for the first offense, a $50 fine for the second, and a $100 fine for all subsequent violations.

The fines collected will be remitted to the county if the violation occurs in an unincorporated area of the county. However, if a violation occurs within a specific municipality, then the fine will be remitted to that specific municipality. 

Kevin Murphy, reporter