Amidst ongoing pandemic
As the term social distancing became common verbiage last week, many local businesses adjusted their operating procedures amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Several local grocery stores have implemented new business hours that allow the retailers to clean and restock shelves. Some supermarkets are also dedicating the first shopping hour of certain days to senior citizens.
“Pandemonium,” is how a Food Lion store manager described business at the East Ellijay store during the past week.
As of Monday, March 23, updated hours for the following Gilmer grocery stores were:
Walmart: Monday-Sunday: 7 a.m.-8:30 p.m.; Special shopping hour for senior citizens: 6-7 a.m. each Tuesday.
Ingles: Monday-Sunday: 8 a.m.-9 p.m.; Special shopping hour for senior citizens, first responders and those with compromised immune systems: 7-8 a.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Food Lion: 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Sunday.
At a time when an upswing of tourists would usually begin filtering into downtown Ellijay, several downtown businesses made the decision to either reduce their operating hours or close to foot traffic entirely.
Artful Ellijay, a Main Street home furnishings shop, is among local businesses with a sign on the front entrance to notify passersby of a temporary closure.
The store is part of the Artful Provisions business umbrella that also includes home design and custom metal work services, noted co-owner Samantha Gabriel.
“We are a family and friends owned and operated business that thrives on face-to-face interaction, so COVID-19 has been a major blow. The last couple of weeks have been filled with tough conversations and it feels like we are hitting pause on our dream,” Gabriel said.
“My heart is breaking because we had to scale back or furlough our friends and family, but the collective well-being of our community is the number one priority. Last week, we began offering virtual shopping and home design services because we are perfectly equipped to help people feel at peace at home,” she added.
Multiple restaurants have closed their indoor dining rooms and lobbies for the time-being, while continuing to offer drive- thru, curbside service or takeout orders to customers.
In a press conference Monday evening, Gov. Brian Kemp announced an order that would close all bars and nightclubs and ban all gatherings of 10 or more people unless at least six feet can be maintained between people at all times. That order will remain in place until April 6, Kemp said.
At River Street Tavern, the decision was made to close the popular downtown restaurant’s dining area following Kemp’s announcement. The tavern’s owner, Brad Simmons, confirmed this is usually when he can expect an influx of customers given the onset of spring.
“We’re coming off of a time where we’ve spent money on remodeling, updates and things like that. This is the time of year where we should be making money, (but) we’re running with no staff basically. The (order) says bars and nightclubs, but we’re a restaurant. At the same time, they’ve made limitations to where we can’t fit people in,” he said.
The tavern will continue to offer curbside service and takeout, as well as delivery to certain parts of the county, Simmons noted Tuesday.
“We have no known cases here and I don’t want to cause that from people coming in from out of town. We want to do what’s best for the community,” he added.
The Gilmer Chamber noted that Georgia has received a statewide disaster declaration from the U.S. Small Business Administration making the state’s small businesses eligible for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help continue funding operation and paying employees. Gilmer County has been designated as a primary county for that funding, the chamber said.
More information can be found online at SBA.gov.
12-step meetings canceled
As more public meetings and gatherings continue to be canceled or postponed, several local substance abuse recovery meetings have also been put on hold for the time-being.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings are usually held each day of the week at multiple churches or Isaiah House, an addiction recovery center that offers temporary housing.
Isaiah House director and addiction counselor Sally Jeffery confirmed that all 12-step meetings at those two locations are canceled until further notice. Along with AA meetings, Isaiah House usually hosts weekly Narcotics and Cocaine Anonymous meetings.
“Substance abuse recovery is all about community, so it’s important for those with substance abuse disorders to remain in communication with others in the recovery community. This can be done via, phone, Facetime, Skype, texting, Facebook and the internet. For those in recovery, we recommend you speak daily with your sponsor, even if it is just to say hello. Leave a message if they don’t answer,” advised Jeffery, who noted some of the online options that are allowing the recovery community to stay connected.
“The Georgia Council on Substance Abuse has virtual meetings two times a day on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. To access, download the application Zoom at Moxtra.com. Once you sign up, enter the group with the ID number 696-949-293. I believe Celebrate Recovery at the Orchard Church can be viewed live on Friday nights online at 6:45 p.m. via their Facebook site,” she added.
Jeffery emphasized that it’s important to stay connected to other healthy people during a time of crisis.
“Avoid HALT: If you are Hungry, get something to eat. If you are Angry, talk to someone about it. If you are Lonely, call a friend. If you are Tired, go to sleep,” she advised.
“Connect to a recovery meeting on the internet. Ask family members and friends who are supportive of your recovery to help you during this time. Have a list of five people you can call if you feel your sobriety is at risk. Exercise and eat well. Play games, go for a walk or do something creative. Live one day at a time and enjoy being sober. Stay in the moment.”