Suwanee’s fiscal year 2020 balanced operating budget of $13.8 million represents a 2.2 percent increase over the $13.4 million budget for the recently ended 2019 fiscal year. (Courtesy City of Suwanee)
Photo: For the AJC
Photo: For the AJC

Suwanee, Duluth declare states of emergency due to coronavirus

Two more Gwinnett cities have declared states of emergency and ordered restaurants to stop in-person dining in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Suwanee and Duluth both approved emergency declarations, Suwanee on Thursday and Duluth on Friday.

READ | State of emergency: Coronavirus changes how local governments meet

Duluth will be under emergency declaration until the council decides to terminate it, spokeswoman Alisa Williams said. Duluth City Council is allowed to meet via teleconference  and the will postpone or cancel all other scheduled meetings and hearings while it’s under the emergency declaration. 

Suwanee’s emergency declaration, which expires March 23 but can be renewed, does not explicitly address teleconference meetings, but the city will be allowed to hold them while under emergency declaration due to the Georgia Open Meetings Act.

Regular meetings like city council require 24 hours notice even when a city is under an emergency declaration, but emergency meetings can be called without a day’s notice. 

The Duluth resolution passed Friday afternoon also extends deadlines for occupational taxes, alcohol license renewals and “all other licenses or fees” owed to the city until June 30. Any alcohol taxes that acrue through June 30 can be paid in six installments, according to the Duluth emergency declaration.

All gyms, movie theaters, performance spaces, bowling alleys and entertainment centers must close in Suwanee under an executive order issued by Mayor Jimmy Burnette.  

Bars and restaurants in both Suwanee and Duluth must close to in-person dining, drinking and entertainment, and must reduce person-to-person contact as much as possible. Businesses in both cities will be allowed to sell unopened beer and wine to go if they have a permit to serve alcohol. Workers in the city must maintain a six-foot distance from each other whenever possible, the order says.

Not all emergency orders have included bans on in-person dining or other businesses that facilitate large groups of people. Gwinnett County, Norcross and Lawrenceville have issued statements and orders encouraging businesses to limit in-person contact, but have not strictly banned in-person dining or the operations of theaters and gyms. Lawrenceville Mayor David Still issued a ban on gatherings of 50 people or more Friday afternoon.

Both cities had already closed many public buildings in order to reduce personal contact and prevent the spread of coronavirus. Gwinnett County has 20 cases COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.