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Chamber helping to collect info from Forsyth County businesses seeking ‘essential’ status
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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The Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce is helping collect information from local businesses that might seek “essential” status should the state mandate shelter-in-place orders in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Chamber has a link on its website to a Google Form where businesses can provide their name, contact information, industry sector and a reason for seeking “essential business” status.

The information is being compiled by the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) “so that it can be pulled and considered if circumstances warrant,” according to the website.

The GDEcD will not be approving requests.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has stopped short of an all-out shelter-in-place mandate, though on Monday, March 23, he ordered the statewide closures of bars and nightclubs, banned gatherings of more than 10 people, unless the people can be kept six feet apart, and required high-risk populations to shelter in place or quarantine through April 6.

A few cities in Georgia have taken further measures. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms signed a 14-day stay-at-home order late Monday night. Mayors in Athens and Savannah have issued similar orders to allow for only “essential activities” and “essential businesses” to continue. Those cities provided a detailed list of all activities and businesses that qualify as essential.

Forsyth County Commission Chairwoman Laura Semanson signed a declaration on Friday, March 20, urging residents to “avoid holding, sponsoring or attending non-mandatory assemblies or gatherings of 10 or more individuals for so long as Forsyth County remains in a state of locally-declared emergency.”

Many local businesses, like barbershops and salons, have closed temporarily, while others have remained in operation but taken measures to abide by social distancing guidelines, particularly restaurants that have closed their dining areas and instead are offering curbside pickup and delivery services.