(NOTE: This press release was updated at 4:06 p.m. Monday, March 23 with information on the Extension Agency.)
The Hall County Government Center will be closed to the public beginning at 5 p.m. Friday, March 20 through Friday, April 3 in an effort to protect the health and wellness of our community as it continues to navigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, the Hall County Board of Commissioners work session scheduled for Monday, March 23 and the voting meeting scheduled for Thursday, March 26 have been canceled.
These measures were taken following a special called meeting Thursday evening where the Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution encouraging adherence to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines related to COVID-19. The resolution also encourages citizens to stay home and avoid contact with others for the next 14 days.
"As we continue to learn about the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, we are constantly re-evaluating our practices and procedures to ensure they are in step with the White House and Centers for Disease Control’s guidelines," Hall County Administrator Jock Connell said. "The first priority of the Hall County Board of Commissioners is the safety of our employees, visitors and citizens."
Connell said a limited number of employees will still report to the government center each day in order to provide basic and essential functions of government to the public.
The limited number of employees reporting to work will be required to practice social distancing and other hygiene measures advised by the CDC to minimize any risk to their health. The County has also increased its sanitation efforts countywide to ensure employees reporting for these essential functions are working in the most sterile environment possible.
"Just as a small number of essential County services must continue to provide for the public’s safety, health and welfare, we also recognize that a number of functions within the private sector must go on as well to meet the basic demands and needs of our community during this time," said Connell.
In addition to the government center, Hall County community centers, libraries, park pavilions, park restrooms, and the Senior Life Center have also been closed amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The Hall County Animal Shelter has closed to the public; however, staff will continue to care for the animals on a daily basis. Parks and library programming have been canceled until further notice, and the Hall County Courthouse has scaled back its operations but remains open for essential matters following a statewide judicial emergency declaration last week. The Hall County Correctional Institute is also scaling back inmate work details countywide in the best interest of the public and its prisoners. The Hall County Landfill, Recycling Center and compactor sites will remain open for the time being.
Additionally, all services are suspended for the Gainesville Connection. Dial-A-Ride services will be scaled back, with priority given to trips to work, medical appointments, pharmacies and grocery stores. The Hall County Extension Agency will be operating remotely, but checking the phone messages left at its office line periodically.
"Although several facilities have been closed to the public, there is still a multitude of options for citizens to conduct County business online," said Connell.
For example, online motor vehicle services, including vehicle registration renewals, the payment of insurance fines, etc. are available via the "Online Payments" button on Hall County’s website, www.hallcounty.org. That’s also where citizens can pay their property tax, renew their business license, and more.
The County’s website can also be used to file property tax exemptions, apply for a building permit or print an absentee ballot application, just to name a few.
The homepage of the website includes a "Departments" heading where citizens can find links to individual County departments’ contact information in order to contact a department specifically and determine whether or not their Hall County business can be conducted without an in-person visit.
Finally, a number of proactive steps Hall County has taken to date in regards to the coronavirus epidemic, along with a number of other helpful resources on this issue, can be found at ready.hallcounty.org.
"I would like to personally thank all Hall County citizens for their cooperation and patience as we navigate this uncharted territory together, as a Hall County community," said Connell.