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Georgia's shelter-in-place order impacts businesses, tourism in Thomasville

Posted at 5:14 PM, Apr 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-03 18:16:12-04

THOMASVILLE, Ga.(WTXL) — The Big Bend area is less than an hours drive from the state of Georgia's shelter-in-place order.

In Georgia, everyone will be required to stay at home and have as little social interaction as possible, with the exception of essentials like food, medicine or cleaning items.

Georgia residents can go outside as long as they practice social distancing, six feet between people at all times.

While the police department and sheriff's office work to figure out how to enforce the order, not everyone is seeing this as a bad thing.

Deborah Smith owns Taste of Thomasville, a company providing a unique way to learn more about the city's history while also getting a taste for what downtown restaurants have to offer.

"It has definitely put a complete stop to our tours," said Smith.

Now that there's a shelter in place order, Smith and many other business owners are shutting down.

"Usually this time of year, between March and May is a very, very big time for us," Smith said.

Tourism is big in Thomasville.

"Like so many other industries, our tourism has definitely seen a drastic change," said Bonnie Hayes, tourism manager.

Tourism in Thomasville accounts for almost 700 jobs and brings in $77 million each year. While the shelter in place will have an impact on this community, they're looking forward to brighter days ahead.

"We are absolutely looking forward to our second half of the year," Hayes said. "We already had groups looking to come to Thomasville, and now we have groups looking to reschedule. It's going to be a very busy fall season."

While things are hard for Smith right now, she's not worried about what the future holds.

"We miss our guests," she said. "We miss restaurants, the workers, the owners. We miss downtown."

"I think when people get finished with all of this they're going to be wanting to get out," said Smith.

The shelter in place begins at 6 p.m. on Friday and lasts until April 13.