The Rolla City Council enacted Rolla's Stay at Home Ordinance that went into effect on Monday and is set to expire on May 11. Rolla Mayor Louis Magdits provided the following update today on the enforcement of the ordinance and what it means for the community:
“On March 30th as a preemptive measure to protect the health of our citizens the Rolla City Council enacted Ordinance No. 4547 – Rolla’s “Stay at Home Ordinance”. This ordinance is intended to ensure that the maximum number of people stay at home in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 while still enabling citizens and businesses to conduct essential activities. The ordinance went into effect on Monday, April 6, 2020, and is currently set to expire on May 11th. City Council has reiterated that the ending date will be adjusted depending on how the virus is impacting Phelps County.
“Over the past week City Hall has received well over 100 calls and emails from citizens and businesses looking for clarification and direction. The bulk of the calls have been dealing with the questions of “essential” vs “non-essential” businesses and citizen activities as defined by the ordinance. We have also received many calls from citizens regarding basic questions of simply driving around town to perform important functions. The ordinance states, “all persons may leave their homes or place of residence or if visiting the city as a non-resident only for Essential Activities or to operate Essential Businesses”. The meaning of “essential” being the key distinction.
“This past week City Administration has been developing an online system to help businesses make the “Essential Business Determination” subject to review and determination by a core team of city managers. That system is designed to go live this week and will provide an opportunity for businesses to make their case. The determination of an “essential business” ultimately rests with the City. For businesses that feel the administrative decision is not consistent with the Ordinance a final appeal process will also be in place this week.
“City Administration has also considered at length the enforcement implications or the Stay at Home ordinance. The ordinance states “Violation of or failure to comply with this Order is a crime punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both” (by MO law can be up to $500 and/or 30 days in jail). It is certainly not the City’s intention to make criminals out of our many good businesses and citizens. Our desire is to limit unnecessary travel and activity to minimize the potential risk of spreading COVID-19 and to do so through education, support, and common sense. Ultimately our police officers will have the discretion to make those determinations based on intentional violations of the ordinance. We are confident the vast majority of our citizens understand the seriousness of this virus and the implication for all of us if there are flagrant and intentional violations.
“To add to the confusion on April 6th Governor Parson issued a state-wide Stay at Home order. Governor Parson’s order, which remains in effect until at least April 24th, has the same basic intent as the City of Rolla’s Ordinance; however, it goes further by placing occupancy limits on Essential Businesses. Another difference between the City’s Ordinance and the State Order is that the latter does not specifically prohibit “non-essential businesses” provided that no more than 10 people are gathered and 6 feet of social distancing is maintained. The Governor’s Order allows cities to enact more stringent laws based on local necessity which the City of Rolla has done by requiring “non-essential businesses” to cease operations (except for minimum basic operations).
“Lastly, we strongly ask that our citizens focus on the intent of these Orders for the health of all citizens. We urge everyone to act responsibly by following the CDC guidelines - Follow the Five:Hands – wash them often. Elbow – cough into it. Face – do not touch it. Feet – stay more than 6 ft. from anyone. Feel – sick ? Stay home. "