City of South Fulton officials have unveiled a tentative plan to reopen city facilities and operations over a 60-day period starting July 5.
According to the city’s news release, the plan outlines protocols for social distancing, enhanced hygiene and sanitizing procedures limited personal contact and other safety measures. The council is set to adopt the plan at its June 23 meeting.
“South Fulton citizens are battling a colossal challenge – an invisible enemy that has tested each of us and our livelihoods on a daily basis,” said Mayor William “Bill” Edwards. “But, overcoming challenges to create opportunities is something we’ve learned to do well, especially during this pandemic.”
“We have shown we are able to move forward in the greatest of adversity, while maintaining the highest levels of safety,” Edwards added. “This determination will serve us well as we start to reopen the city as efficiently as possible.”
To ensure a diverse range of viewpoints were represented in the plan, city officials surveyed employees and local businesses to gather their input. their input, making South Fulton the only city to do so, according to City Manager Odie Donald II.
Under the proposed plan, the city will reopen offices with strict social distancing and safety protocols in place and limited occupancy. Residents and staff will be required to wear masks and practice safe hygiene measures as suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Visitors must schedule appointments before visiting City Hall.
All city council, board and commission meetings will be conducted online and broadcast via live stream. Meetings and gatherings will be limited to 10 people with social distancing measures in place and workspaces will be redesigned to include plexiglass barriers where needed.
The city will continue to connect with residents virtually through online court, permitting and recreation services put in place early in the pandemic. Residents will be able to secure permits, make payments, settle fines and discuss court cases, all online. The city’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department will continue to offer virtual services, including dance classes, sports clinics and physical fitness programs. All essential public safety, public works and community development services will continue as they have during the city’s closure.
“This approach will allow staff to conduct essential operations in a flexible way that ensures the safety of residents and city employees, which remains our top priority,” Donald said. “By following this plan, we will drastically reduce the possibility of transmitting the virus, while maintaining a healthy business and work environment.”
Donald explained that while the first phase of reopening is proposed to begin July 5, it will start only when Fulton County shows a sustained 14-day period of a downward trajectory of documented COVID-19 cases.
Phase two, which will begin when there is a continued sustained downward trend in virus cases, will include the same provisions and allow for meetings of up to 50 people. The final phase in which guidelines for regular staffing of facilities, public meetings and other activities is set to begin September 8 after further evidence of a sustained decrease in new cases of the virus.
“The City of South Fulton has continued to be proactive in its efforts to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. In many cases, we have led both the region and the state in how we have responded to the global pandemic,” Donald said. “The proposed safe reopening plan aligns perfectly with our priorities and unified commitment to provide world-class service for every South Fulton resident, while ensuring everyone’s wellbeing.”