COVID-19 update: Impact to courts, elections, parks, senior services, & more

March 27

Gwinnett County Government is monitoring developments in the spread of the coronavirus outbreak and how it may affect our residents, employees, and our delivery of important County services.

Chairman Nash declares local state of emergency, signs order to bolster local businesses

Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners Chairman Charlotte Nash signed a declaration of local emergency on March 16. The primary purpose of declaring the state of emergency is to allow county government to move quickly if called upon to make emergency purchases, reallocate resources, or take other actions that would normally require adherence to certain procedures.

On March 19, Chairman Nash signed a local emergency order that falls under this declaration to help local businesses cope with the impact of COVID-19. The order extends the deadlines for business licenses and excise taxes in the sale of alcoholic beverages. It also temporarily authorizes establishments licensed to sell beer and wine on premises to sell unopened bottles of beer and wine for take-out consumption for the duration of the declared local emergency.

The local emergency declaration will end April 13, 2020, unless renewed in accordance with the Gwinnett County Code of Ordinances or the emergency conditions no longer exist.

Gwinnett County and all 16 cities issue stay at home orders

Board of Commissioners Chairman Charlotte Nash and the mayors of the cities in Gwinnett have issued stay at home orders for their respective jurisdictions as a means to protect the health, safety, and welfare of Gwinnett County residents. This move is being made in a coordinated fashion in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to preserve the community's capacity to provide essential governmental and healthcare services.

This local emergency order will be in effect from 12:01am on March 28, 2020, through 11:59pm on April 13, 2020, or until it is extended, rescinded, superseded or amended in writing by the chairman.

Residents may leave their homes to conduct activities that are essential to their own health and safety and that of family/household members, partners, significant others, and pets. Essential activities include, but are not limited to, obtaining food, medication and medical supplies, household consumer supplies, and healthcare services or caring for a family member or pet in another household. It is also permissible to engage in outdoor activity, like walking, hiking, running or bicycling, as long as individuals comply with social distancing requirements.

March 27 order continues and expands business closures, social distancing for essential businesses

The County's local emergency order also mandates all businesses that operate in Gwinnett County to cease all activity except for the minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business' inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, and related functions. This directive applies to for-profit, nonprofit, or private educational entities; it excludes essential businesses. Businesses consisting exclusively of employees or contractors who work from home may continue to operate.

All essential businesses are strongly encouraged to remain open while adhering to social distancing requirements. Such businesses include healthcare, grocery stores; certified farmer's markets; organizations that provide food, shelter and social services to those in need; news agencies; gas stations, auto supply and auto repair shops; banks; and restaurants that offer delivery, takeout or drive-thru service. For a complete list, please refer to the order.

Individuals who work to provide essential services or essential products may leave their places of residence to carry out these activities.

Exceptions for essential functions

The order also makes exceptions for essential governmental functions and essential infrastructure, meaning public works construction, private construction and related activities, utilities, telecommunications and solid waste services. First responders, emergency management personnel, 911 dispatchers, court personnel, law enforcement personnel, and others who perform essential services, such as healthcare workers, are exempt from the order.

Watch a short video from Chairman Nash that explains how this order affects you .

Planning and Development office closed

In keeping w ith countywide stay-at-home orders issued March 27, the lobby of the Gwinnett County Department of Planning and Development at One Justice Square is closed to the public, but employees are working remotely to respond to inquiries online.  Residents and business owners are encouraged to take advantage of their many  online services.

If you have questions about any local emergency orders related to the COVID-19 public health emergency, please contact  GC-License-Revenue@gwinnettcounty.com. If you would like to report a violation, please email  ReportViolation@gwinnettcounty.com.

Order allows solid waste haulers to temporarily modify pickups

Under a  local emergency order signed by Chairman Nash March 25, the following changes will be made to solid waste service in unincorporated Gwinnett:

  • Only bagged trash placed inside trash carts and recycling materials placed inside recycling carts or bins will be picked up; in other words, excess household trash or recycling materials placed outside the containers will not be picked up.
  • Bulky waste, white goods, and yard waste collections will be suspended temporarily.


The order also strongly encourages residents to place all trash and recycling inside bags and to tie those bags before placing them in carts to eliminate loose debris in the containers or on the ground. The order is in effect through April 7 at 11:59pm.

Temperature screenings underway at GJAC and Courts Annex

The Sheriff's Office has implemented temperature screenings at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center and Gwinnett County Courts Annex as an added precaution to protect the health and safety of employees and visitors.

At every entrance, deputies will measure the temperature of each person who enters the building using a no-touch infrared thermometer. If the temperature measures 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or above, the person will not be permitted to enter the building.

Water Resources Central Facility lobby closed

In order to protect our customers and our employees, the lobby at the Central Facility at 684 Winder Highway in Lawrenceville is closed. Customers will still have the ability to make payments online, by mail, through our automated phone service at 678.376.6800, or through the drive-thru window at the Central Facility. We encourage any customer who is having a difficult time making water bill payments during this National Crisis to contact our Customer Care Team at 678.376.6800.

The Gwinnett County Department of Water Resources emphasizes that drinking water is still safe to consume. According to the CDC, the COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking water, and conventional water treatment methods that use filtration and disinfection, like those in our drinking water systems, should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.

As a precaution, Water Resources has developed an emergency staffing plan that will be implemented if necessary. This plan will ensure our facilities will continue to operate with no interruption and Gwinnett will continue to provide safe and reliable water to our residents.

Gwinnett Animal Shelter suspends adoptions

Until further notice, pet adoptions are suspended at the Gwinnett Animal Shelter. Residents who have lost a pet are encouraged to continue to look through the Available Pets page on GwinnettAnimalWelfare.com. Customer service representatives are available to reunite lost animals with their families by appointment only. The shelter will not be accepting owner surrenders, but stray or injured pets will be accepted. To make an appointment to be reunited with a lost pet or to report a stray or injured pet, please call 770.339.3200.

County Fire Marshal imposes outdoor burn ban

The Gwinnett County Fire Marshal’s office has ordered a ban on outdoor burning starting March 23 at 10:00pm. The ban is intended to free up Fire and Emergency Services personnel to be available to provide uninterrupted emergency services to our residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The following outdoor fires are prohibited: burning of leaves, limbs, and natural vegetation that may fall on one’s property; prescribed burning; acquired structure burns; vegetative debris from storms; and weed abatement, disease, and pest prevention. The safe use of campfires and BBQ grills is still allowed and does not require a permit. As always, people should exercise extreme caution when using grills or campfires.

If you have questions about any local emergency orders related to the COVID-19 public health emergency, please contact GC-License-Revenue@gwinnettcounty.com. If you would like to report a violation, please email ReportViolation@gwinnettcounty.com.

Police precincts & annex lobbies close temporarily

The Police Department will temporarily close lobbies at each of its five precincts and the Police Headquarters Annex beginning Monday, March 23. The Police Department's Records Unit at police headquarters will remain open for visitors needing to pick up copies of incident and accident reports or obtain criminal history reports.

Police Headquarters is located at 770 Hi Hope Road in Lawrenceville. The hours are Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:00am to 5:00pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:00am to 6:00pm, and Fridays from 8:00am to 3:00pm.

You can also obtain incident reports online at https://bit.ly/GCPDIncidentReports and accident reports at https://buycrash.com/.

Transit

Beginning Monday, March 31, Gwinnett County Transit customers using local buses will enter and exit buses using the REAR doors only, except for customers who require the accessibility ramp. Because farebox equipment is located at the front door, Gwinnett County Transit is temporarily suspending fare collection on local buses. Priority seating on local buses and regular seating in the front of the commuter buses will be blocked off to practice social distancing from drivers.

To take precautions on our fleet of buses and limit the spread of COVID-19, hand sanitizer when available will be placed on buses for passenger use. Bus operators have been provided with their own personal hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. We are also deep cleaning local and commuter buses daily, an increase from once a month. The cleaning products used for deep cleaning kill germs at a rate of 99.9 percent.

GCT has temporarily cut back on the number of commuter trips between park-and-ride lots to downtown Atlanta. Under the revised schedule, morning trips will be reduced from 47 to 18, and afternoon trips will decline from 58 to 19. Local routes are unaffected. Click here for the new commuter schedule.

Economic Development

Staff from the  Gwinnett County Office of Economic Development will be available by phone, video conferencing, and email. Business outreach assistance is still available, but all in-person meetings and Coffee and Conversation networking events have been postponed.

Georgia has received a statewide declaration from the U.S. Small Business Administration that will provide SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans to impacted small businesses. The loans are available for small businesses and nonprofit organizations. For more information, visit the  Economic Development COVID-19 Business Resource and Information page.

County Business Continuity

An internal task force has been working to evaluate existing policies and prepare additional plans for business continuity to allow us to continue to provide essential services to the community.

Courts and Trials

Chief Justice Harold D. Melton of the Supreme Court of Georgia has declared a  statewide judicial emergency until Monday, April 13, 2020, unless otherwise extended. Courts will remain open to address essential functions, and in particular will give priority to matters necessary to protect the health, safety, and liberty of individuals. To the extent court proceedings are held, they will be done in a manner to limit the risk of exposure, such as by videoconferencing, where possible.

Essential functions include but are not limited to: arrest and search warrants, family violence and stalking temporary protective order applications, and mental health commitment hearings.

In addition, this order grants relief from any deadlines imposed by otherwise applicable statutes or court orders, such as statutes of limitations or time within to issue a warrant.

Probate Court

The Gwinnett County Probate Court is closed through April 13 except for emergency petitions, such as medical consent guardianships, orders to apprehend, involuntary commitments, and marriage license applications for weddings before April 14. Expiring weapons carry licenses before April 14 will receive 30-day extensions. Other Probate Court services should be handled by mail or online. For more information, visit  GwinnettCourts.com/probate.

Recorder's Court

Gwinnett County Recorder's Court has postponed court hearings through April 13, 2020. Those scheduled to appear before that date will be sent a notice with a rescheduled hearing date. To find out more, please visit  GwinnettRC.com or contact the Recorder's Court at  RecordersCourtInfo@gwinnettcounty.com or 877.794.0988. 

Gwinnett Tax Commissioner Offices

All Gwinnett Tax Commissioner Offices are now closed to the public to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Customers may utilize e-services, drop-off and kiosks for most transactions. Customer service is available 8:00am to 5:00pm weekdays via phone, email and chat. Visit the Gwinnett Tax Commissioner’s website for contact details, links to e-services, and more information.

Parks and Recreation Indoor and Outdoor Facilities

Under the March 27 stay at home order, it is permissible to engage in outdoor activity, like walking, hiking, running or bicycling, as long as individuals comply with social distancing requirements.

Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation park hours are currently sunrise to sunset and certain areas within parks are closed. Basketball, tennis, volleyball, and sand volleyball courts, dog parks, ball fields, playgrounds, pavilions, and skate areas are closed until further notice. Trails and open areas in County parks are still available from sunrise to sunset, but visitors must follow CDC guidance for social distancing.  

If you have questions about any local emergency orders related to the COVID-19 public health emergency, please contact GC-License-Revenue@gwinnettcounty.com. If you would like to report a violation, please email ReportViolation@gwinnettcounty.com.

All County parks indoor facilities, aquatic centers, and pools were closed a week ago and remain closed, and programs hosted at these facilities have been canceled until further notice.If you have an upcoming reservation at a pavilion or other facility, staff will contact you for rescheduling or refunding options.

Senior Services and Programming

All Gwinnett County senior center operations and senior recreation programming has been suspended.

Seniors who receive their meals through our senior congregate programming have been added to the County's home-delivered meals program to ensure that their essential needs are being met at home. Meals will continue to be delivered directly to the homes of seniors who already participate in our home delivered meal program, and in-home services will continue for those clients who receive homemaking and respite services.

All operations and programs at Prime Timers Pointe at George Pierce Park and Bethesda Park Senior Center have also been suspended.

Events and Activities

Events and activities are suspended in compliance with the March 27 stay at home order.

If a Gwinnett County Community Services event you have registered for is canceled, you will receive an email or phone call notifying you of the cancellation. Any registration fee will be refunded.

Elections: Presidential Preference Primary postponed until May 19

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has moved the March 24 Presidential Preference Primary to coincide with the state and local primary on May 19, 2020. Early voting at all Gwinnett County advance in person voting sites has been suspended. 

Every vote already cast, whether by mail or in person, will be counted in May for the Presidential Preference Primary along with votes cast in the state and local primary.

We will continue to share additional updates as details become available.

County Facilities

Senior centers, indoor Parks and Recreation facilities, basketball, tennis, volleyball, and sand volleyball courts, dog parks, ball fields, playgrounds, pavilions, and skate areas are closed. The GJAC Café within the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center is also closed. At this time, County facilities not mentioned above will remain open during normal business hours. The County has implemented many enhanced cleaning practices.

During the stay at home order, residents may leave their homes to conduct activities that are essential to their own health and safety and that of family/household members, partners, significant others, and pets. If you must visit a County facility, visitors are encouraged to practice everyday personal protective measures, like avoiding contact with people who are sick, practicing coughing and sneezing etiquette, avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, and washing your hands thoroughly and regularly.

Gwinnett County also offers a variety of online services that offer residents an alternative to coming into a County facility.

Police and Fire and Emergency Services

Police and Fire and Emergency Services have staffing plans to ensure adequate response to any emergency call. They also have established CDC-based protocols for handling calls with people with COVID-19 to protect everyone involved.

Visit the  Gwinnett County Public Schools webpage or Buford City Schools webpage for information about school closures.

Keep checking this article for updates as we address this developing situation.