Curfews imposed by city of Griffin, Spalding County no longer in effect

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

With the enactment of Governor Brian Kemp’s shelter-in-place executive order, the curfews imposed by the city of Griffin and Spalding County are no longer in effect.

As of 6 p.m. Friday, April 3 – the time at which the shelter-in-place order goes into effect – all activities permitted under Kemp’s order will be permissible at any time of the day or night. The local curfew no longer prohibits permissible activities between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.

“There is no curfew. The governor’s order superseded it. The governor’s order supersedes all local,” said Spalding County Manager William Wilson.

Asked if the city of Griffin’s curfew is also no longer in effect, Griffin City Manager Kenny Smith stated, “That’s correct. I mean, technically that is correct, yes. Our order goes out the window at 6 o’clock.”

Smith said he has taken action in his authority to establish responsive guidelines for local officials.

“I issued an executive order adopting his and giving our officers the authority to enforce it,” he explained.

Kemp’s executive order specifically addressed measures enacted statewide at the city and county level since March 1 that have the stated purpose or effect of “responding to a public health state of emergency, ordering residents to shelter-in-place, ordering a quarantine or combatting the spread of coronavirus or COVID-19 that in any way conflicts, varies or differs from the terms of this Order.”

Kemp’s directive is that such local orders are not to be enforced.

“Enforcement of all such ordinances and orders is hereby suspended and no county or municipality shall adopt any similar ordinance or order while this Order is in effect, except for such ordinances or orders as are designed to enforce compliance with this order,” the order states.

On Friday afternoon, Kemp issued a separate executive order deputizing Georgia sheriffs to enforce certain specific provisions of his April 2 shelter-in-place executive order “involving businesses, establishments, for-profit and non-profit corporations and organizations.”

Georgia sheriffs are already authorized to enforce other executive orders a governor may issue as they relate to states of emergency. However, Kemp’s orders involving business and other organizations was a separate issue he addressed today.

“It appears in talking to different sheriffs, it appears that was left out of the order yesterday that particular part of it,” said Spalding County Sheriff Darrell Dix. “It should have been in it yesterday, but it was not included, so he went back and amended it today.”
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Kemp’s executive order can be read in its entirety at https://gov.georgia.gov/executive-action/executive-orders/2020-executive-orders
____________________________________________________________________________________________Dix said he has been involved in extensive discussions regarding COVID-19 and the enforcement of different orders pertaining to states of emergency during the pandemic.
“I can tell you there’s been a lot of discussion about that on many levels, and not just the local level,” he said. “It’s my understanding that that is correct – that it’s (Kemp’s executive order) stopped the curfew for now and we, the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office, we are going to act in the best interest of the community in making sure everyone’s rights are protected and that we are going to act with a lot of discretion and we are going to give the benefit of the doubt to the citizen as much as we can.”

Dix urged Spalding residents to remain calm and stressed that no one will be prevented from engaging in activities necessary to their daily lives.

“I think that if you look at the executive order, What this all boils down to is this – common sense. That’s what it all boils down to. If you don’t have to be out, don’t be out,” he said. “Grocery stores are not going to close down. Pharmacies are not going to close down. You’ll still be able to go and do those things. You will still be able to do everything that is essential to your lives.”

He said that while his agency will enforce all applicable laws, his personnel will do so within reason.

“We’re going to err on the side of caution. We’re going to err on the side of people’s constitutional rights, while also having to balance the health and well-being of the community, in our county and our state,” Dix said.

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