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City of Springfield News Releases (General)

Posted on: March 16, 2020

Mayor declares civil emergency; City Council prohibits public gatherings of 50 or more

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

After a third case of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was confirmed early today in Springfield-Greene County today, Mayor Ken McClure signed a proclamation of civil emergency.

At a special City Council meeting today, following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, the council passed an ordinance prohibiting any public gathering of 50 or more persons except for educational institutions, daycare facilities, and business operations in the corporate limits of the City of Springfield or any extension thereof; authorizing the mayor to issue an order amending which public gatherings are prohibited to protect public health; establishing a penalty for violating the prohibition; and declaring an emergency pursuant to City Charter Section 2.12. The ordinance is in effect for 30 days, but will be extended if the declaration of civil emergency is renewed.

The purpose of the ordinance is to minimize community spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

The mayor has the authority to amend which public gatherings are prohibited, either in number or in type, if in his judgment the prohibition should be amended to protect public health.

What is a public gathering?

A “public gathering ” for purposes of this ordinance shall be defined as a planned or spontaneous event with a number of people in attendance that could facilitate the spread of a communicable disease. 

What is not considered a public gathering?

These measures do not prohibit gatherings  of  people  in  multiple, separate  enclosed  spaces  (including separate cubicles) in  a  single  building  such  as  a  multiplex movie theater, school classrooms, or different floors of a multi-level building, so long as 50 people are not present in any single space at the same time.

These measures do not prohibit the use of enclosed spaces where 50 or more people may be present at different  times  during  the  day,  so  long  as  50  or  more people are not present in the space at the same time.

A “public gathering” does  not  include  the following so  long  as  visitors  are  generally  not  within  arm’s  length  of  one another for extended periods:

  • Spaces where 50 or more persons may be in transit or waiting for transit such as airports, bus stations or terminals.
  • Office space or residential buildings.
  • Grocery stores, shopping malls, or other retail establishments where large numbers of people may be present, but it is unusual  for  them  to  be  within  arm’s  length  of  one another  for extended periods.
  • Hospitals and medical offices and facilities.

Who does this impact and how?

Examples include (but aren’t limited to) conferences, cultural events, places and gatherings of faith, sporting events, celebrations, weddings, social events, and other large gatherings.

Will this close venues, restaurants and bars?

No. This does not prohibit gatherings where 50 or more people may be present at different  times  during  the  day,  so  long  as  50  or  more people are not present in the space at the same time.

What if my venue capacity is over 50 people?

These measures do not prohibit gatherings where 50 or more people may be present at different  times  during  the  day,  so  long  as  50  or  more people are not present in the space at the same time. If your venue capacity is over 50 people, you are able to operate at reduced capacity of below 50 people at one time. It is the responsibility of the location to ensure compliance with this capacity limit.

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department also urges individuals who are at the highest risk from COVID-19, as determined and defined by the CDC, to not attend and to avoid community gatherings or events.

When does this start and how long does this last?

This ordinance is effective immediately for 30 days. The Springfield-Greene County Health Department is closely monitoring the situation with COVID-19 and these regulations are subject to change based on the spread of the virus.

Do these orders prevent gatherings for my place of faith?

If your place of faith holds more than 50 people at the same time in a single room or other single confined or enclosed space, the gathering is prohibited at this time. 

Follow Springfield-Greene County Health Department sanitation guidance to decrease the spread of COVID-19:

  • Work remotely if and when possible.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Those who are at higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness, including individuals over 60 or with underlying conditions such as heart disease, lung disease or diabetes, should consider working remotely and avoiding large crowds.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue - if available - or into your elbow.

Is my school or my child’s school closing?

School closures and class modifications will be determined per district or university.

Is it safe to go out in public?

Yes. At this time, Springfield-Greene County Health Department encourages residents and visitors to use good judgement, employ increased sanitation measures, and stay home when possible. 

How will these orders be enforced?

Existing officers that regularly enforce code regulations regarding public assembly, including police and fire officers and health inspectors have the ability to enforce this ordinance. Any person who shall violate this provision shall, upon conviction, be punished as provided by Springfield City Code Section 1-7. Penalties range from 0 - $1,000 and/or 0-180 days in jail.

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For more information, please contact Cora Scott, Director of Public Information & Civic Engagement, at 417-380-3352. For the latest local updates about coronavirus, visit health.springfieldmo.gov/coronavirus.

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