Brookhaven, Decatur issue stay at home orders

Martha Allen protects herself with a mask while grocery shopping in Decatur on March 23 2020. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC

Martha Allen protects herself with a mask while grocery shopping in Decatur on March 23 2020. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC

The cities of Brookhaven and Decatur have issued stay-at-home orders, mandating that residents leave their homes only for the most essential activities in an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett issued her order -- which was inspired by the city of Atlanta's similar measures -- on Tuesday night, a day after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp put more lenient statewide restrictions in place.

“The intent of the Order is to ensure that the maximum number of people self-isolate in their places of residence to the maximum extent feasible, while enabling essential services to continue, to slow the spread of COVID-19 to the maximum extent possible,” a city of Decatur press release said.

The order mandates that Decatur’s roughly 25,000 residents leave their residences only for “essential activities, essential government functions, or to operate essential businesses.” It also says that anyone outside their home must “maintain social distancing of at least six feet from any other person.”

Examples of essential businesses include grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, gas stations, auto shops, hardware stores and restaurants, which Decatur previously ordered to offer only take-out services.

Essential activities include acquiring “supplies or food,” medicine or medical care.

“All public or private assemblages, events and gatherings shall be prohibited within the city limits of the city of Decatur,” the order says. “This includes, but is not limited to, weddings, religious gatherings, parties, funerals, sporting events, social events, conferences and other gatherings.”

The order is effective at 12:01 a.m Wednesday and runs until 11:59 p.m. April 7, unless modified.

The Brookhaven City Council, meanwhile, adopted similar measures during a Tuesday night meeting conducted via videoconference.

The city extended its original emergency declaration until at least April 15; closed all businesses that did not fall under 13 separate categories deemed “essential”; and mandated that residents shelter in place unless absolutely necessary.

The city also put a curfew in place between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. each day, with exceptions that include first responders, health care workers and people traveling to and from jobs.

Brookhaven was the first Georgia municipality to close restaurants and bars to all but take-out service. The new order takes things a step further.

“We've really led the way on this the best we can during difficult times,” Mayor John Ernst said.

The City Council also adopted Tuesday a resolution urging Gov. Brian Kemp to enact a statewide shelter in place order, a move he has thus far resisted. Kemp has, however, asked people to stay at home, closed bars and night clubs and prohibited groups of 10 or more unless they can maintain appropriate personal distance.

“We in Brookhaven are not an island,” city councilwoman Linley Jones said. “And we can’t contain this virus ... without the cooperation of the other cities throughout the state and without the cooperation of our governor.”

As of Tuesday evening, Georgia had confirmed 1,097 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. It had reported 38 deaths.