LAWRENCEVILLE, GA — Gwinnett County announced Sunday that anyone who violates the county’s coronavirus stay-at-home order may face 60 days in jail or a $1,000 fine upon conviction. A news release from the office of Gwinnett County Solicitor General Brian Whiteside promised “aggressive and innovative prosecution” for violators, who would be charged with a misdemeanor.
Gwinnett County issued its stay-at-home order on Friday. Covering all 16 cities in Gwinnett, the order went into effect Saturday and lasts until April 13 unless extended or rescinded by Gwinnett County Chairwoman Charlotte Nash.
“Our residents need to understand the extreme danger and seriousness of the coronavirus, to which no one has immunity,” said Gwinnett Municipal Association President Kelly Kelkenberg on the county’s website. “We are acting in unison to stem its spread, to keep from overwhelming our medical facilities, and to save lives.”
As of noon Monday, Gwinnett County had the fifth most coronavirus cases in Georgia, with 158 cases confirmed and one person dead.
According to the order, residents may leave home for essential activities to ensure the health and safety of themselves, their families, their partners or their pets. Outdoor activity like walking or running is allowed as long as social distancing is maintained.
Essential businesses — including grocery stores, pharmacies and restaurants that offer drive-through, takeout or delivery — are encouraged to remain open as long as employees and customers stay 6 feet apart from each other.
The emergency order requires non-essential businesses to cease all activity except the minimum required to maintain the value of inventory, process payroll and the like. The order applies to for-profit, non-profit and private-educational businesses.
“We don’t expect the police to be out there looking for violations,” Whiteside said. “This is pointed at the people who are inclined to violate the ordinance, not the 99.9 percent who won’t.”
He added that as former police officer with a wife who’s a nurse and a son who’s a Gwinnett County sheriff’s deputy, he’s especially sensitive to how coronavirus spread might affect his own family. “We’re just trying to keep people alive,” he said.
If you have questions about any local emergency orders related to the COVID-19 public health emergency, contact GC-License-Revenue@gwinnettcounty.com. If you would like to report a violation, email ReportViolation@gwinnettcounty.com.