Motorists fleeing coronavirus hotspots in the Northeast are finding anything but a warm welcome if they stop for gas or food just north of the Florida state line in Camden County.
City, county and state law enforcement officials have set up checkpoints at exits 14, 7, 3 and 1 on Interstate 95 through 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Authorities are telling transient non-residents they will be allowed to purchase fuel and carryout meals, but they are asked to minimize their time before continuing on their trip to Florida, said Capt. Larry Bruce, a spokesman for the Camden County Sheriff’s Office.
“We’re limiting access to travelers headed to Florida,” he said. “They get food, gas and they’re on their way.”
One exception will be to seek emergency medical care. The other is for non-resident employees of local businesses, and personnel working at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia Department of Transportation and other state and federal agencies.
The directive will not apply to commercial or private vehicles engaged in business travel for deliveries or business operations.
As for getting a motel room for the night in Camden County, forget it — at least through 6 p.m. Wednesday.
The county has imposed non-resident transient accommodations restrictions that could be extended based on the recommendation by the Georgia Department of Public Health. All public accommodations, including short-term rentals of less than 180 days, are under the moratorium until the same time.
Non-resident transients currently staying in local lodging establishments are directed to self-quarantine during their stay.
Camden County has a mandatory curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. effective until noon April 6. The curfew does not restrict essential travel to and from work, medical care, pharmacies or for food or fuel.
Robert Horton, emergency management director for St. Marys, said the city agrees with the restrictions adopted by the Camden County emergency management team.
“The city of St. Marys supports and will enforce all restrictions set forth in the public notice,” he said.
After motorists cross the state line, they will be greeted with another sign due to Florida’s concern with the influx of people fleeing the virus.
All southbound interstate traffic is being diverted into a weigh station where Florida authorities are telling motorists from coronavirus hot spots that they are required to self-quarantine for 14 days once they reach their destinations.
They are required to sign a document acknowledging they understand they face fines and jail if they are caught disobeying the self-quarantine.
“They haven’t turned anyone around,” Bruce said.