After weeks of city and state-mandated closures for the COVID-19 pandemic, things are gradually starting to reopen around the state of Georgia.
The governor has relaxed some restrictions while extending others. Key dates and guidelines for the state of Georgia include:
- Shelter in place requirement for elderly and medically fragile is set to expire on June 12, 2020
- Georgia’s public health state of emergency is set to expire on June 12, 2020
- Georgia’s judicial emergency is in effect through June 12, 2020
Some businesses are still under statewide order to remain closed, while others are open with new safety restrictions:
- Currently allowed to open with restrictions
- “Critical infrastructure” businesses
- “Non-critical infrastructure” businesses
- To remain closed through May 31, 2020
- Bars, nightclubs, amusement parks, theaters, and live performance venues
Note that just because the governor has eased guidelines for the state, that some municipalities may have their own safety restrictions and local ordinances in effect.
For more resources about Georgia’s statewide COVID-19 guidelines and updates, check the Georgia Department of Public Health.
Georgia Mountain Parks & Public Areas
The weather is warm and schools are finishing for the year, so people are looking for which parks are open. Please note that although your favorite park may be currently open, there are smaller limits to the maximum number of people allowed to use the park at this time. Parks will stop allowing guests to enter once the park’s maximum capacity is reached.
Georgia State Parks
The state parks in Georgia are OPEN, although social distancing is required, large groups are not permitted, and parks will be closed if they get too crowded. The state still recommends that most people stay local and stay home.
Please choose to explore lesser-known or close-to-home parks and historic sites during this time. Visiting the most well-known state parks is not currently recommended due to the likelihood of larger crowds. Also note that although the state parks are open, the parks have capacity caps in place and state parks will temporarily close to maintain a maximum capacity at their set limit.
It is recommended to check the Facebook pages of these individual North Georgia parks to see their most current status.
- Amicalola Falls State Park (on Facebook at @AmicalolaFallsLodge)
- Black Rock Mountain State Park (on Facebook at @blackrockmtsp)
- Chief Vann House State Park (on Facebook at @friendsofthechiefvannhouse)
- Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site (on Facebook at @DGoldMuseumPark)
- Fort Mountain State Park (on Facebook at @fortmountain)
- Hardman Farm Historic Site (on Facebook at @HardmanFarmStateHistoricSite)
- Moccasin Creek State Park (on Facebook at @Moccasin-Creek-State-Park-454999681897540)
- New Echota Historic Site
- Tallulah Gorge State Park (on Facebook at @Tallulah-Gorge-State-Park-Page-177791296204855)
Georgia Mountains County Parks and Resources
There are a lot of county parks and each locality may have its own local rules. Here are county by county resources to help find specific details for different areas.
- Fannin County
- Lumpkin County COVID-19 closure and alerts
- Rabun County tourism website (no closings updates)
- Towns County (Hiawassee, Young Harris) local COVID-19 updates
- Union County local COVID-19 updates
- White County (Cleveland, Yonah Mountain) has opened its parks / outdoor recreation areas
Other Parks & Public Areas
Most federally operated lands in North Georgia are currently closed including the US Forest Service and National Park Service sites.
- Appalachian Trail
- Brasstown Bald
- Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest Area
Georgia Mountain Business & Attractions
The unique and amazing small businesses in the North Georgia mountains are starting to reopen with adjusted offerings for increased customer and employee safety.
North Georgia Vineyards
Each Georgia mountain vineyard will have its own policy and timeline for safely reopening. Please contact each vineyard directly if you have any questions about visiting. Here is a partial list of current policies across the Georgia mountain vineyards.
For more information, visit the Vineyards & Wineries in the Georgia Mountains page.
Paradise Hills Resort in Blairsville
- Cabin Rentals: reopens Friday, May 1, 2020 (with no-contact check-ins and outs)
- Tasting Room: reopens Friday, May 8, 2020 (staff will be limiting direct contact with guests and encouraging social distancing)
- Spa: reopens Friday, May 15, 2020 (access to the lounge and sauna during the month of May will be restricted)
- Live Music: returns May 30,2020 on weekends from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Frogtown Cellars in Dahlonega
- Wine bottle sales (pick up in the tasting room), wine tasting flights (3 x 2oz pours), and restaurant are now open
- Reservations suggested via OpenTable
- Note that there are no wine tastings currently offered (poured flights at the table only)
Stonewall Creek Vineyards in Tiger
- Patio: reopens Friday May 1, 2020
- Wine bottle sales: enjoy your purchased bottles of wine on the patio (plus you may bring your own food)
- Wine tastings, wine by the glass, and food service
- May also purchase wines for $10 flat rate shipping for online orders during May 2020
Serenberry Vineyards & Winery in Blue Ridge
- Wine bottle sales available Thursday – Sunday for pickup from the Tasting Barn (or order anytime online!)
- 5% discount on 6 bottles
- 10% discount on 12 bottles
- Purchased bottles may be enjoyed at the wide-open vineyard space with proper physical distancing
- Wine tasting flights/wines by the glass are not currently available
Wolf Mountain Vineyards in Dahlonega
- Café lunch (reservations required): normal hours (12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.) Thursday – Sunday
- Tastings and wine by the glass/bottle
- Limited reservations as seating is now spaced farther apart – additional seating areas now available in the wedding pavilion for incredible views!
- Buffet service postponed until further notice
Animals & Zoos
North Georgia Zoo is gradually adding hours and services that can accommodate safe distancing for visitors. Visit the “Drive Through Zoo” to see the zoo for free (donations accepted and go to help feed and care for the animals) or book a scheduled class of Yoga with a Kangaroo and Friends.
You can also directly financially support the animals via North Georgia Zoo’s COVID-19 crisis relief GoFundMe page.
Other Georgia Services
Many different types of services across the state have been affected by the shutdown, and as not quite everything is open yet, it’s best to call to confirm your destination is open before making unnecessary trips.
Even though Governor Kemp has lifted many of the COVID-19 restrictions, the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia has extended a statewide judicial emergency for the second time, and the statewide judicial emergency is now in effect through June 12 (the same date that the governor’s shelter-in-place recommendation for medically fragile people expires). This means that:
- Suspension of all criminal and civil jury trials through June 12
- Bars courts from summoning and impaneling new trial and grand juries
These suspensions were deemed necessary to enforce the recommended social distancing to protect the health of large groups of people who are typically assembled in response to jury summonses. Chief Justice Melton said he extended the state judicial emergency because, “The courts are different from most private establishments and public places in that we compel people to attend court proceedings, and that requires us to be extra cautious.”
If you have legal questions or require legal assistance, call the Corales & Woody law firm at (678) 961-3999 for a free consultation.
Georgia residents should note that the current deadline is October 5, 2020 to register to vote in the presidential and general election scheduled for November 3, 2020. It’s a quick process that can be completed online using the form below from vote.org.
Georgia residents may click here to check their registration status, their polling location, print a sample ballot, and register online (or use the easy form below to register).
For the latest statistics and information on the COVID-19 pandemic in Georgia, visit the website for the Georgia Department of Public Health.