Gwinnett county, cities are extending emergency orders

Gwinnett residents exercise on walk path at Alexander Park in Lawrenceville on March 27. Gwinnett County and its cities are starting to extend emergency orders. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com) AJC FILE PHOTO
Gwinnett residents exercise on walk path at Alexander Park in Lawrenceville on March 27. Gwinnett County and its cities are starting to extend emergency orders. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com) AJC FILE PHOTO

Gwinnett County leaders are signing local orders than allow local governments to extend their state of emergency declarations.

The moves match the state’s decision to extend the state of emergency until May 13.

Gwinnett County's order was signed Monday, County Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash said in an email. The city of Lawrenceville also extended theirs.

Chuck Warbington, the city manager, said the move doesn’t give governments any additional powers. But the extended state of emergency is required for some federal funding, and to continue provisions that are already in place, like waiving the normal procurement policy, he said.

Warbington said Lawrenceville hasn't needed to bypass its normal rules yet, but acknowledged "it's a lot of trust" that local leaders are being given as they deal with the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic.

“There’s always that fear of somebody abusing power,” he said. “It’s a big deal when you have a state of emergency. You have to watch things with a wary eye.”

Warbington said the governments still need to stay in a state of emergency, with the state’s stay-at-home order valid through the end of the month. Local leaders can’t even meet in the same room, with much government business taking place online.

“There’s a lot of power vested in a small amount of people right now,” he said. “It should not be easily done.”