Atlanta mayor declares state of emergency in city

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has announced a ban on large public gatherings in the city amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“In an effort to slow the spread of the Coronavirus, I have declared a State of Emergency within the city of Atlanta, prohibiting large public gatherings of more than 250 people,” Bottoms said on her Twitter page Sunday evening.

The ban will continue through the end of the month. Under the ban, Bottoms could impose a curfew, close businesses and city-owned buildings and other facilities opened to the public.

Atlanta is the latest city to enact a gathering ban in the United States. Dallas has a ban on gatherings of 500 people or more and Pittsburgh announced a ban on gatherings of 50 people or more after initially declaring a ban on in line with Atlanta's.

The moves comes as Georgia has 99 confirmed coronavirus cases, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. It also comes a day after Gov. Brian Kemp announce a state of emergency for Georgia.

Georgia had its first coronavirus-related death last week. On Thursday, Kemp confirmed the 67-year-old male who died had tested positive for the COVID-19 illness on March 7 and also had "underlying medical conditions."

Bottoms announced the ban Sunday shortly before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended a ban on gatherings of 50 people and more. Examples of mass gatherings include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events and weddings.

“This is a quickly evolving public health crisis,” Bottoms said in a separate tweet. “We will continue to evaluate and adjust our policies accordingly.”

A ban as restrictive as what the CDC suggests could essentially shut down the city. The CDC’s recommendations don’t apply to the day-to-day operations of schools, colleges and businesses.

School districts and employers have already instituted work-from-home policies, leaving residents holed up in their homes for two weeks at the least.

On Friday, all nonessential city of Atlanta employees worked from home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The Atlanta City Council is also conducting business remotely.

Monday’s 1 p.m. council meeting is rescheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday and will occur via teleconference.

For the public comment portion of the meeting, the public can email their comments to the council and they will be put into the official record, City Council President Felicia Moore said. The media and public will also be allowed to listen to the meeting by phone by dialing 877-579-6743 and entering ID number 8315991256.

The City Council will be on recess after Tuesday’s meeting and isn’t scheduled to meet again until April 20.

AJC staff writer Stephen Deere contributed to this article.

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