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Chamber helping to collect info from businesses seeking 'essential' status

Georgia is trying to take stock of businesses statewide and whether they consider themselves “essential” in the coronavirus health crisis.

The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce is helping in the effort by pushing out an online form for local businesses. A state official “will follow up with the company at the appropriate time,” the chamber said.

In a press release Wednesday, March 25, the chamber said: “As our region takes action to minimize the spread of COVID-19, one area of significant concern is that governments should consider the impact that their actions might have on essential businesses when they decide that it is necessary to put curfews in place and limit the movements of people.”

Bert Brantley, chief operating officer of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, said of the effort: “We had a number of businesses and industries that were reaching out in case there was an essential/non-essential designation made by the state.”

He added, “Individual companies should not feel like they have to apply. The trend around the country has been to designate industry sectors and business types, not specific companies.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has released a list of “essential critical infrastructure workers to help state and local officials as they work to protect their communities, while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security.”

The list includes businesses, such as restaurants, grocery stores and pharmacies, but also utilities, such as energy, water and wastewater, as well as law enforcement.

“Our water treatment plants and wastewater treatment plants are operating 24/7 to meet the water and sewer needs of our customers,” said Linda MacGregor, director of City of Gainesville Water Resources. “We continue to respond to any leaks or spills.  Our construction projects are continuing.”