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Commissioners end state of emergency in Forsyth County
Forsyth County Board of Commissioners from left, Todd Levent, Molly Cooper, Chairwoman Cindy Jones Mills, Laura Semanson and Alfred John.

While the state of emergency for Georgia continues, the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners voted to rescind Forsyth County’s COVID-19 Pandemic Resolution. 

At a work session on Tuesday, May 10, commissioners voted to terminate the resolution that had been in place since March 2020. 

According to County Attorney Ken Jarrard, the board declared a state of emergency on March 18, 2020 and passed a resolution the following day on March 19, 2020. 

The board made “various modifications of the resolution as the pandemic dragged on,” including benefits to businesses such as the alcohol to-go allowance, the possibility for virtual board meetings and remote bid openings. 

“The primary objective of the county in these resolutions was to benefit our constituents and neighbors and our businesses as they struggled with the new environment that was created by COVID-19,” Jarrard said. “Basically, anything that we could dig into our toolbox to allow businesses and the community to be able to function.”

While Jarrard noted that Gov. Brian Kemp’s state of emergency continues, he said that it has transitioned into ““more of an economic emergency as opposed to a pandemic-related emergency directly.”

From his position, Jarrard said it was “time to rescind this [resolution]” in Forsyth County.

During board discussion, District 5 Commissioner Laura Semanson asked if rescinding the resolution would prohibit virtual board meetings. 

“We would need to go back to live meetings barring some other sort of emergency situation,” Jarrard said. 

However, Jarrard also noted that commissioners would still be allowed to use their two-day virtual allowance or meet through Zoom if they have a personal situation or emergency. If not utilizing one of those statutes, Jarrard said meetings would need to be in-person. 

Semanson asked if the in-person ruling would affect virtual public participation. 

Jarrard said rescinding the resolution would not get rid of that rule, and it was up to county management to decide if that option could continue. 

Jarrard also noted that alcohol to-go sales were one of the last provisions of the resolution, but as the state passed a bill to allow to-go sales of alcohol legal, that portion of the resolution was no longer in effect. 

Before passing a vote, Chairman Alfred John gave kudos to the other four board members that “ushered us through these difficult times.”

He also gave thanks to Jarrard and Emergency Management Agency Director Chris Grimes for steadfast assistance through the pandemic.