Hogansville elects not to prohibit dining-in at restaurants, closes some businesses

Published 2:14 pm Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Members of the City of Hogansville City Council voted to not enact a ban on dining-in at restaurants as part of the city’s emergency ordinance that the council passed Wednesday morning.

The ordinance will become effective in the City of Hogansville at 5 p.m. on Thursday.

During the meeting, council member Toni Striblin recused herself from the vote and discussion.

The amendment included the closure of all gyms, fitness centers, indoor amusement Centers, bowling alleys, pool halls, theaters, massage parlors, nail and hair salons.

Council member Mark Ayers and Mandy Neese immediately objected to the banning of dining-in at restaurants that was originally part of the proposed ordinance.

“We only have a few places in town that’s actually going to apply to,” Ayers said. “If we could just keep them accountable to all the rest of the rules and then if they still don’t follow them, then we can move in a little bit further. I do believe it’s still people’s choice whether or not they want to risk themselves in going in and sitting in a restaurant. I don’t really see it as any further risk than a gas station or anything else in town.”

Neese commented that she agreed with Ayers that going to a gas station is no different than going to a restaurant in town.

“We are all still exposing ourselves,” Neese said.

Neese recommended that restaurants must follow the six feet rule and if they don’t then the city can close them.

“It is harder than ever for citizens to get groceries currently, especially on the west side of the community and the Village,” Ayers said. “Even if they could walk to Ingles, the ones who don’t have transportation, the shelves aren’t as full as they once were. So, getting to restaurants just to eat a meal without having to walk home, carrying that meal, is something I know a lot of people do.”

Mayor Bill Stankiewicz voiced his concerns that leaving restaurants open is putting everyone at risk.

“How many people will die before you say, ‘uh oh it’s time to act,’” Stankiewicz said. “Our sister city, and everybody else, through Troup County is taking this action to defend the health and welfare of our citizens. I just feel it is an unnecessary exposure. I don’t know how you could have six feet between people at a restaurant where people are sitting around the table.”

After three unsuccessful votes, the city passed the emergency ordinance that excluded closing dining-in at a restaurant.

“We will regret this decision,” Stankiewicz said.

Additionally, according to the ordinance, places of business that remain open are to maintain six feet of separation between patrons. Gatherings of 10 or more are banned in the city. Hogansville also elected not to enforce a city curfew.