VALDOSTA – Lowndes County is under a voluntary shelter-in-place order.

In a joint press conference between Lowndes County Commission Chairman Bill Slaughter and the mayors of Valdosta, Lake Park, Hahira, Remerton and Dasher, officials announced new safety measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 at the Lowndes County Operations Center Tuesday morning.

Slaughter said the voluntary shelter-in-place mandate would continue for 14 days until noon April 6. It will be reevaluated at that time and adjusted as needed.

Additionally, the chairman declared several mandatory orders that county residents must follow: 

– A prohibition on public and private gatherings of 10 or more people.

– No worship services should be attended if it includes 10 or more people.

– Closing of recreation centers.

– Closing of gyms and fitness centers.

– Closing of bars.

– Restaurants will still be allowed to offer curbside and deliveries under the current order. 

There will be consequences to whoever violates the new orders, he confirmed. 

"We'll use whatever resources are available to us at that point to bring cases against individuals that violate these orders," he said.

Both Slaughter and Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson urged residents to practice social distancing, standing six feet apart at minimum.

"It's a matter of common sense," Slaughter said. "With everything that's going on with this virus, it's important that every citizen needs to react as if the person standing next to you has the virus which means you definitely want to get away from them."

A mandatory shelter-in-place order remains possible in the future, according to Slaughter.

This story was updated at 10:04 a.m. March 24.

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