Sandy Springs changes course on reopening due to COVID surge

Sandy Springs, Ga: The main stage at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center is shown Friday June 1, 2018, in Sandy Springs, Ga. PHOTO / JASON GETZ
Sandy Springs, Ga: The main stage at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center is shown Friday June 1, 2018, in Sandy Springs, Ga. PHOTO / JASON GETZ

Credit: Jason Getz

Credit: Jason Getz

Sandy Springs is halting plans to fully return to normal city operations due to the increase in COVID-19 cases.

The Performing Arts Center at City Springs will remain closed for now and both Concerts by the Springs and City Green Live music series have been canceled, spokesperson Sharon Kraun said.

City Council meetings will continue to be held remotely with live stream accessibility for the public. A plan to hold the July 22 meeting in-person was scrapped.

The Planning Commission meeting scheduled for that day will take place in-person, Kraun said, due to arrangements already made by attendees. But future meetings will be held remotely.

“We are all feeling the strain from COVID, economically, physically, and mentally,” Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul said in a statement. “I understand the powerful desire to insert elements that bring back a sense of normalcy, but we are not there yet in terms of getting control over the outbreak.”

During his virtual State of the City address on July 9, Paul described Abernathy Road and Northwood Drive neighborhoods as “hot spots” or “warm spots” with more people who tested positive for coronavirus than other areas of town.

Residents in neighborhoods deemed as hot spots could have a higher concentration of essential workers employed at jobs they can’t work remotely, Fulton County Board of Health Director Dr. Lynn Paxton said.

Paul has urged citizens to wear masks in public and said he gets as many as 15 emails a day from residents asking the city to pass a mask mandate. A directive for a mandate has been considered by City Council but the mayor said the officials could not reach a consensus to move forward. Any such mandate would go against an executive order issued Wednesday by Gov. Brian Kemp prohibiting local governments from requiring masks.

“I am also surprised and dismayed by the significant percentage of people who choose not to wear masks in public,” Paul said. “Particularly in grocery stores and in other publicly accessible areas.”

City of Sandy Springs employees wear masks on days they work inside city hall, Kraun said. Staff rotates days working onsite and teleworking from home to limit the number of people in the building. The public is allowed inside based on spaced out scheduled appointments.

The building is fumigated on Fridays, Kraun said.

“The health of the community is the most important thing,” she said.