What's legal when it comes to social distancing in CSRA's public places?

(Source: WRDW)
(Source: WRDW)(WRDW)
Published: Mar. 30, 2020 at 6:31 PM EDT
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Monday, March 30, 2020

EVANS, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- As of Monday, there had been 40 calls to the Columbia County 311 service about coronavirus concerns at businesses, ranging from not enough distance between people to overcrowding and not properly sanitizing.

Reports detail concern after concern called in by people in the county.

But no businesses have been shut down. Some closed their own doors and others were cited.

“I wasn’t on a mission to out anyone,” Columbia County resident​ Kris Fisher said. “I was just gonna hit a drive-thru.”

One was at the Applebee’s in Evans. A concern cited “overcrowding.” That’s what Fisher thought when he posted this video to Facebook.

“My wife works at the hospital and she’s in ground zero ...” Fisher said.

“While people are going about their business and trying to carry out their lives normally for whatever reason, they don’t care there’s all these other people they’re not thinking about.”

County Administrator Scott Johnson says that what was happening was allowed.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s order states that “no business shall allow more than 10 persons


such gatherings require persons within 6 feet of another person.”

In other words, if you can’t be 6 feet apart, there must be fewer than 10 people.

We checked in with the governor’s office, and the staff agrees.

“For someone to think Columbia County has just folded their arms and not done anything in the interest of the county making money, they’re turning a blind eye,” Columbia County Administrator Scott Johnson said. “That couldn't be further from the truth.”

Johnson says even at closed places — like Savannah Rapids Pavilion — people are not listening.

He counted 72 cars lined down Evans to Locks when they tried to close the entrance.

“Our parks are closed,” Johnson said. “We have people literally putting their children over a fence and then climbing the fence themselves.”

Columbia County Board of Commissioners Chairman Doug Duncan’s message was that officials can’t help you if you don't help yourself.

Meanwhile, a company spokesperson from Applebees reached out to us, saying that the restaurant is continuing to take customer safety into consideration.

“Our number one priority continues to be the health and well-being of our teams, guests and the neighborhoods we serve. We’re adhering to all federal, state and local mandates that have been established for operating restaurants at this time. We have also enhanced our in-restaurant procedures with team member education and heightened cleaning and disinfection requirements. In locations where dine-in is still an option, like in Evans, we’ve also taken additional precautions for our dine-in guests, removing every other table, and limiting and spacing barstools to adhere to social distancing recommendations and to do our part in helping to prevent the spread of the virus," Neal Musmanno, director of operations for Apple American Group, an Applebee’s franchisee, said.

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