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Why Cumming government leaders haven't ordered businesses to close
FCN Cumming City Council Meeting 092118
Cumming Mayor Troy Brumbalow speaks during the city council's regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. - photo by Brian Paglia

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As some in the community have asked the city of Cumming to close businesses or issue a stay-in-place order due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, Mayor Troy Brumbalow released a statement over the weekend saying that the city council was “not prepared to take such action at this time.”

According to the city charter, the city council has the authority to declare and enforce a quarantine, offer a “pest-house” and has “power and authority to make and enforce all ordinances necessary and precautionary for the prevention of any contagious or infectious disease or the spreading or communicating thereof.”

“I have received dozens of requests for me to close businesses and order shelter-in-place for Forsyth County and the City of Cumming," Brumbalow said in the statement. "The city charter doesn't give the mayor the authority to do either. Furthermore, the mayor has no control over the county. The city council has the emergency powers authority to enact such a shutdown."

Brumbalow said a shelter-in-place order for Cumming would only work if all other communities in the state were also under the same restrictions, which currently isn't the case. Gov. Brian Kemp has closed schools through April 24 and ordered those consider high-risk for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, to self-quarantine, but he's otherwise left the decision to issue stay-at-home orders to local governments. 

Brumbalow said he also felt the only effect shelter-in-place order would be one that shuts down the city "completely."

"Completely means everything," Brumbalow said in the statement. "Groceries and medicine would have to be delivered and left on your doorstep with no human interaction. Police would need to shut down roads to keep people from leaving or entering. To truly stop the spread, these measures would have to take place. The city council doesn't think those measures are warranted at this time and I don't think many people would either."

The mayor said city residents had been practicing social distancing and limiting the spread of the disease but feared a blanket shutdown could hurt local businesses. 

“Most people are doing exactly what they should. Cumming is a ghost town compared to normal. Traffic hasn't been this light in 30 years,” Brumbalow said. “Countless businesses have temporarily closed voluntarily. Many others have shortened hours and changed to drive-thru or delivery only. I fear we will lose many small businesses owned and operated by our neighbors. When those businesses close, many more of our neighbors will lose their jobs.”

On Monday morning, Brumbalow asked residents on Facebook whether they were in favor of a stay-at-home order, with many of the responders not in favor of a complete shutdown but saying the city and Forsyth County should have the same rules. 

"We will get through this. I have no doubts," Brumbalow said in the statement. "People and businesses are following the mandates set forth by Governor [Brian] Kemp. I implore everyone to practice social distancing, wash your hands and most importantly use common sense."

Last week, county officials announced the closure of dine-in and/or outdoor/patio services at restaurants, the suspension of some penalties and fines for local business owners and the suspension of certain purchasing policies related to COVID-19.

Forsyth County leaders previously sought to help some local restaurants by permitting them to sell closed packages of alcohol, such as unopened bottles of beer and wine, on Thursday, March 21.

Also last week, the city extended the suspension of recreation programs from April 12 to Sunday, April 26 and the closure of all city facilities to the public from March 31 to Friday, April 10.

The city council and the county commission have both approved rules allowing meetings to be held by video conferencing. 

The entirety of the mayor's statement is below.


I have received dozens of requests for me to close businesses and order shelter in place for Forsyth County and the City of Cumming. The city charter doesn't give the mayor the authority to do either. Furthermore, the mayor has no control over the county. The city council has the emergency powers authority to enact such a shutdown. After much discussion with each council member, they are not prepared to take such action at this time for the following reasons. If a mandatory shutdown of businesses isn't done statewide, what would stop people from going to a neighboring community to get what they want and possibly come back with the virus? Much like when Forsyth was a dry county. Alcohol didn't cease to exist in the county. The point is that if it's not done statewide, people could go next door. How can you shut down Best Buy as a non-essential business and allow Lowe's or a grocery store to remain open? Is the virus more contagious at Best Buy? To shut down to avoid the spread, you would have to completely shut down. Completely means everything. Groceries and medicine would have to be delivered and left on your doorstep with no human interaction. Police would need to shut down roads to keep people from leaving or entering. To truly stop the spread, these measures would have to take place. The city council doesn't think those measures are warranted at this time and I don't think many people would either. 

As a nation, we have been asked to practice social distancing, stay home as much as possible, wash our hands and take all appropriate precautions. 

Most people are doing exactly what they should. Cumming is a ghost town compared to normal. Traffic hasn't been this light in 30 years. Countless businesses have temporarily closed voluntarily. Many others have shortened hours and changed to drive-thru or delivery only. I fear we will lose many small businesses owned and operated by our neighbors. When those businesses close, many more of our neighbors will lose their jobs. 

We will get through this. I have no doubts. People and businesses are following the mandates set forth by Governor Kemp. I implore everyone to practice social distancing, wash your hands and most importantly use common sense. 

God bless,

Mayor Troy Brumbalow