Fayette cities order “non-essential” businesses closed in virus fight

Peachtree City, Fayetteville and Tyrone have instituted restrictions on business operations in their communities as each attempts to contain the coronavirus.

Over the course of three days this week, each of the Fayette County communities announced the closure of barber shops, gyms and parks, as well as the prohibition of dining inside restaurants, though curbside or drive-thru service is still allowed. Gatherings of 10 or more people — including at churches — also is prohibited, the ordinances said.

“This virus is an invisible enemy,” Peachtree City Mayor Vanessa Fleisch said in a videotaped address Wednesday. “You may feel fine hanging out with your friends, but you can give them the virus.”

The restrictions are in place until April 7, at which time the cities may revisit the issue based on the disease’s impact, the leaders said.

The push comes as metro Atlanta communities try to address the growing COVID-19 pandemic, which has infected more than 1,500 Georgians as of midday Thursday, killing 48. Nationally, confirmed coronavirus cases topped 69,000 with more than 1,000 deaths.

In the last week, cities across the region have declared states of emergency, closed businesses and in some cases, imposed curfews, to try to short-circuit the spread of the disease.

Fayetteville, which declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, has never experienced a public health emergency on the magnitude of coronavirus, Mayor Ed Johnson said in a videotaped address to residents. The city has closed public buildings and encouraged citizens to “socially distance” themselves, but that has not been enough to break the virus, he said.

“We must intensify our efforts to help flatten the curve and stop the spread of the coronavirus,” he said about the new restrictions.

Tyrone, which also declared a state of emergency Tuesday, adopted similar restrictions.

“This is a fluid situation and the town is calling on all businesses and citizens to do their part to help keep Tyrone safe,” the city said on its website.

Additionally, Fleisch directed residents to stay at home during the evening hours, though she stopped short of calling her instruction a curfew.

“In order to help our police, we are also imploring people to stay at home between 9 p.m. 6 a.m.,” Fleisch said. “Many stores are already closed around 8:30, so there’s very little reason to be out anyway.”

Peachtree City’s signature golf cart trail system will remain open as long as no groups of 10 gather together on them, according to the ordinance. It was unclear how that would be monitored.

“Please think about others,” Fleisch said in closing her address. “Everyone is affected by this. Empathy is so important.”