GAINESVILLE – “In light of the large number of COVID-19 cases that we are seeing come in right now, county administration has made the decision that we delay hearing any Public Hearing items at today’s meeting and look at alternative safety protocols for our next couple of meetings,” Hall County Planning Director Sarah McQuade said at the start of Monday’s Hall County Planning Commission meeting.
It would be the first public meeting adjusted by county leaders following an announcement made late Monday afternoon that changes were being made to the way Hall County conducts its business.
“What we will be doing tonight,” McQuade continued, “is tabling all of our agenda items and we’ll be hearing them at the Tuesday, January 19th, meeting.”
McQuade explained after the meeting that county leaders had spent the past several days considering what steps the county should take as the spread of the coronavirus continues. “There was discussion that occurred amongst county administration as well as the Board of Commissioners and other local leaders,” McQuade said.
McQuade added, “They had been in discussions with the hospital…and just felt like it was needed for everyone’s safety.” McQuade said several strategies were under consideration for how the county might handle application decisions that require an opportunity for public comment before a decision is rendered.
Also in the media release issued by the county, Hall County Public Information Officer Katie Crumley said that some Hall County Government facilities will be open by appointment-only starting Wednesday to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
All departments in the Hall County Government Center are included in this change, including the Tax Commissioner’s Office and Tag Office, the Hall County Animal Shelter, the Hall County Extension Agency and all Hall County community centers, according to Crumley.
The landfill, recycling center and outdoor parks will remain open. Other essential services, such as public safety, will not be impacted by the change.
While the Hall County Courts System remains open, the release encourages citizens to conduct as much court system business online as possible.
A complete list of the departments moving to appointment-only service is available at www.hallcounty.org. A complete listing of contact information by department can also be found on the website for citizens with questions or concerns.
The release says citizens can schedule an appointment by calling 770-535-8288. Appointments are available between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Appointments must be booked by 5 p.m. the day prior to the day of the requested appointment.
Several other COVID-19 precautions are still in place, including glass storefronts in areas that have frequent visitors, mandatory mask wearing for all employees and increased sanitation efforts.
The Hall County Library System will begin offering curbside pickup and appointment-only library service starting Wednesday at all locations. The release says appointments for the library system are available at www.hallcountylibrary.org or by phone at 770-532-3311.
“Our hope is to reopen these facilities for public access beginning Tuesday, Jan. 19; however, we will continue to monitor the number of local positive COVID-19 cases and will make adjustments accordingly,” Hall County Administrator Jock Connell said in a prepared statement.
The release said citizens can still conduct business on Hall County’s website, including vehicle registration renewals, the payment of insurance fines, business license renewals and more.