City of Helen 100 years

Reopening Helen (Updated 7/1/20)

 Governor Kemp issued Executive Order 06.29.20.02 on June 29, 2020 regarding COVID-19 and the reopening of our state. (Any information received prior to this time may have changed.) All business owners within the city limits of Helen, GA who have open businesses must be in compliance with this Executive Order. Click here to download: Executive Order 06.29.20.02. Please note that any Executive Order signed by Governor Kemp at a later date will supersede these conditions.  
*The statewide “Shelter in Place” expired April 30, 2020 with the exception for those residents and visitors of the State of Georgia who are high risk as defined on Page 6 of this order.
*The Public Health State of Emergency will expire August 11, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.
 Effective April 24, 2020, the following businesses were allowed to open: Massage parlors, beauty/barber shops, nail salons, tattoo parlors, and tanning salons. If your business is open, you must be adhering to the strict guidelines in the Executive Order, especially Pages 15-16. 
Effective April 27, 2020, all restaurants were allowed to open dining room areas. If your restaurant is open, you must be adhering to the strict guidelines in the Executive Order, especially Pages 8-11, including face coverings for workers when interacting with patrons (Page 8, #7).
Effective May 1, 2020, all hotels/motels and short-term rentals were allowed to recieve guests. If your business is open, you must be adhering to the guidelines in the Executive Order referring to “all businesses”, especially Pages 12-14 where applicable.
Effective May 1, 2020, all other shops and businesses were allowed to open. This includes but is not limited to the following: Retail shops, putt-putt courses, laser tag, horse & carriage rides, escape rooms, wedding chapels, ice cream shops, and any other businesses not mentioned in any other section. If your business is open, you must be adhering to the guidelines in the Executive Order referring to “all businesses”, especially Pages 12-14. 
Effective May 14, 2020, tubing companies were allowed to open. If your business is open, you must adhere to the strict guidelines in the Executive Order referring to "all businesses", especially Pages 12-14. 
Effective June 12, 2020, coaster rides, go-carts, arcades and water parks may open. If your business is open, you must adhere to the strict guidelines in the Executive Order, especially Pages 20-23.
Currently, churches may continue to remain open, but parishioners should maintain social distancing (Page 5) and wear face mask to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
City parks and pavilions are currently open with the guidelines prohibiting “gatherings” as defined on Page 4. 
Masks are strongly recommended for all customers (and specifically required for some). Business owners can require customers to wear mask while in their business. 
Again, this information is subject to change based on regulations set forth by President Trump or Governor Kemp. If you have any questions, please call Helen City Hall at 706-878-2733.
*Although certain areas of Executive Order 06.29.20.02 have been highlighted to draw attention to those areas, all guidelines must be followed.

2020 Openings, Cancellations and Special Events Updates

Due to the COVID-19 Virus, the City of Helen would like to make you aware of several items.

The following 2020 Special Events will be held with restrictions as required by Governor Kemp’s Executive Order 06.11.20.02:

  •             May 28-31 = US Rider News & Southeast Victory Rally
  •             June 13 = Shriner’s Parade

The following 2020 Special Events have been cancelled and will NOT be held:

  •             June 4-6 = Helen to the Atlantic Balloon Race
  •             July 4 = Fireworks

The following businesses are scheduled to open on the following days:

Helen’s City Hall lobby will remain reopen Monday, June 15 at 8:30 a.m. City Hall hours are Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Business can still be conducted over the phone at 706-878-2733 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for those with health issues that may be limiting contact with the public. Payments and correspondences can also be made by mail to P.O. Box 280, Helen, GA 30545, put into the Utility Drop Box in front of City Hall or made by phone with a credit or debit card.

Reopening Short-term Rentals

Effective April 27, 2020 at 3:43 p.m., Governor Kemp signed Executive Order 04.27.20.01 allowing short-term rentals to begin receiving guests (but are not required to open) on May 1, 2020. If you own a short-term rental, you must adhere to the strict guidelines in the Executive Order referring to "all businesses", especially Pages 11-14 where applicable. A link to this order is available in the "Reopen Helen" article.

What to Expect When Visiting Helen During COVID-19

The great City of Helen, GA is coming back to life after the COVID-19 shutdown. The majority of businesses are now open. Like you, we are eagar to get life back to normal, but we still must both follow the directives of the Governor of Georgia and do what we believe is best for our families and community. Because of this, many business owners may have specific conditions they require for people to patronize their business. We ask you to respect the requirements of Governor Kemp, the business owners, and your fellow visitors. Maintain social distancing, and if a shop owner requires you to wear a face mask, please follow their directive. Thank you for loving our City as we do, and please stay safe.

COVID-19 Cancellations

Due to the COVID-19 virus, the City of Helen announces the following cancellations and continuations:

  • April 7 PDRB Meeting Cancelled
  • April 8 Municipal Court Continued to May 13, 2020 @ 4:00 p.m.
  • April 14 Commission Meeting Cancelled
  • April 21 PDRB Meeting Cancelled

If you have any questions, please call 706-878-2733, Monday - Friday from 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

COVID-19 State of Emergency Update

Commissioners for the City of Helen met in an Emergency Commission Meeting on March 31, 2020. They voted for additional restrictions to be implemented to help avoid the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
 The following businesses are hereby ordered closed effective immediately (specifically included, but not limited to): 
  • Hotels and motels (Current guest must leave by April 1, 2020 at 12:00 noon; essential service guest are excluded.)
  • Short term vacation rentals of houses and cabins
  • Arcades, amusement parks, and related businesses
  • Horse carriage rides
  • Any outdoor commercial day use picnic table areas
  • Any and all other businesses not listed as being permitted to remain open (See below.)
  • All city parks, public areas, playgrounds, recreational areas, or similar places (Individuals or families may continue to use sidewalks for walking or other exercise, provided that six foot social distancing parameters are maintained.)  
The following businesses may remain open during the Local State of Emergency due to the nature of their operation provided six foot social distancing parameters are maintained: 
  • Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but shall ONLY be permitted to remain open for drive through or curbside services. If restaurants remain open for drive through or curbside service, customers MUST remain in their vehicle throughout the process and food MUST be taken from the premises by the vehicle. If a restaurant is licensed to sell beer and wine for on-premises consumption, such restaurant, during the effective dates of this ordinance only, shall be authorized to sell UNOPENED bottles or cans of beer or wine for take-out consumption off-premise.
  • Grocery stores, convenience stores, and other establishments engaged in, as their primary purpose, the retail sale of canned or packaged foods, fruits, and vegetables, pet supplies, meats, and/or any other household consumer products (such as cleaning and personal care products). This includes stores that sell groceries and also sell other nongrocery products, and products necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences.
  • Gas stations, convenience stores, auto-supply stores, hardware stores and related facilities
  • Banks and related financial institutions
  • Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences and essential businesses
  • Laundries/Laundromats, provided that the social distancing parameters required are enforced
  • Sanitation Services
  • Pharmacies
  • Large scale outdoor recreational facilities, such as golf courses, provided that the social distancing parameters required are enforced
  • Home Offices or such businesses conducted solely as "home businesses" and not open to the public
  • Any business that is identified as a critical infrastructure business as designate by the Governor of the State of Georgia or so identified by U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. 
To view Ordinance 20-03-02 in its entirety, please click the following: link: Ordinance 20-03-02: COVID-19 State of Emergency Additional Restrictions 
If you have any questions, please feel free to call Helen City Hall at 706-878-2733, Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

U.S. Forest Service Shuts Down Trailheads

Many people have called regarding the closing of trailheads in the Helen area. The U.S. Forest Service has posted the following information on their Facebook page. Please check their page regarding any future updates.
U.S. Forest Service - Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests -  NEWS RELEASE - Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests temporarily shuts down trailheads, access points to Appalachian National Scenic Trail. 
The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests is temporarily shutting down trailhead facilities and other access points to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and nearby trails to prevent groups from congregating and to protect public health and safety. The decision aligns with state and local measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Currently, recreation opportunities on the forest that support social distancing are still open for public use in other areas, including dispersed camping and other activities. “We realize our communities and our visitors value the recreation opportunities the forest has to offer,” said Edward Hunter, Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests Supervisor. “A lot of discussion and consideration went into this decision. The health and safety of our employees and the public remain our top priority.” The following sites are affected by these changes:
• Trailheads including Dick's Creek Gap, Hogpen Gap, Neels Gap, Springer Mountain, Tesnatee Gap, Unicoi Gap, and Woody Gap • Trails including Andrews Cove Trail, Benton MacKaye Trail (Springer Mountain to Falls Branch Falls section), Byron Herbert Reece Memorial Trail, Dukes Creek Falls Trails, Duncan Ridge Trail, Dockery Lake Trail, Freeman Trail, Jacks Knob Trail, Jarrard Gap Trail, Logan Turnpike Trail, Long Creek Falls Trail, Panther Creek Falls Trail, Slaughter Creek Trail, Springer Mountain Trail, Raven Cliffs Falls Trail, and Yonah Mountain Trail.
The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests reminds visitors to recreate responsibly by avoiding gathering in groups of more than ten people and not engaging in high-risk activities, like rock climbing, that increase the chance of injury or distress. Also note that law enforcement and search and rescue operations may be limited due to COVID-19. Guidelines for health and safety, recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are available at: https://www.cdc.gov/ See the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests’ website for the latest recreation information at www.fs.usda.gov/CONF, also on Facebook and Twitter at @ChattOconeeNF