City calls for ‘State of Emergency’

 Members of Metter City Council at Monday’s emergency called meeting. Pictured (l-r) Chyrileen Kilcrease, City Manager Carter Crawford, Mayor Ed Boyd, Brandon Sikes, Rashida Taylor, Amy Harrelson. Not pictured but in attendance: Councilman Paul MacGregor.

The City of Metter declared a State of Emergency during an emergency called meeting held on Monday evening.

Council then approved an Executive Order that was to go into effect at midnight Tuesday restricting business operations and private gatherings involving crowds of 10 or more. 

However, as of noon on Tuesday, City Clerk Angie Conner reported that the Mayor had not yet signed the Executive Order and that Council will be revisiting the stipulations of the Order in a called meeting planned for later Tuesday.

Original stipulations

Under the executive order that was originally approved, all public gatherings of more than ten people inside the city were prohibited. This would include auditoriums, restaurants, churches or other confined indoor or outdoor spaces and such events as birthday parties, family reunions, baby showers and weddings.

The ordinance also stipulated that funeral services were only to be held outdoors/graveside and should adhere to CDC distancing recommendations.

Exemptions included office spaces, government facilities, schools, child-care facilities, residential buildings, hospitals and medical facilities, grocery stores and restaurants operating curbside, take-out, delivery and drive-thru options.

Specifically included in the prohibition were hair salons, barbers, nail salons, spas, tattoo parlors and indoor recreational facilities such as gyms, physical fitness centers, dance studios and any business that cannot operate with the 6 ft. social distancing requirements.

Councilwoman Chryileen Kilcrease expressed concern regarding gas stations and convenience stores that were originally exempted, stressing that especially during breakfast time, lines are long at some locations.

“It’s like sardines,” she said. “There is no way you can follow the 6 ft. unless you say you are only going to allow so many people in.”

In order to accomplish a maximum occupancy, Kilcrease said, “That’s going to have to come from us. If (the businesses) are not going to do it themselves, we are going to have to.”

How the order will change following Tuesday’s called meeting is uncertain as of press time.

A tough decision

Mayor and Council members agreed that the decision on Monday to call a State of Emergency and restrict business was not one that was taken lightly.

“We have to look at the combined medical resources of our area,” said Mayor Ed Boyd. “If you were to add up what we have locally, which is very limited, because of how small our hospital is, and then you look at our population at risk with the elderly and the people who are not in that great of health, we really could be looking at a terrible situation ...”

City Councilwoman Amy Harrelson said of the businesses impacted by the executive order, “These people are small business owners, entrepreneurs in this town, and we desperately need them to survive this.”

“I don’t like this at all,” Boyd said. “These people are part of our community and we don’t wish them any ill will. 

“I wish we didn’t have to take this action, but through the nature of their business and the nature of the spread of this virus, we are going to have to defend the public from the spread, and if you can’t practice distancing, that’s really the only defense we have if you think about it. It’s the only defense we have from having a large outbreak here that will overwhelm the health system.”

Harrelson asked if any curfew was planned, to which Boyd responded, “We are going to  encourage people to shelter in place, even though we don’t have a shelter in place order. I hate to put any more restrictions in than we have.

“I am leery of a time limit. I think people are going to feel pretty much restricted now. People are going stir crazy at home after just a few days if you read facebook ...”

City of Metter only

Boyd explained that the restrictions that are approved by City Council only impact businesses/residents/groups inside the city limits.

“Anything we do here will not apply to anyone outside the city limits,” he said. 

Keeping you informed

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