GREENSBURG — As reported in Wednesday’s Daily News, because of concerns about the spread of COVID-19 local officials are taking a serious stand against unnecessary travel anywhere in Decatur County.
Greensburg Mayor Joshua Marsh and Police Chief Brendan Bridges offered clarification of the emergency status issued this week jointly by the Decatur County Commissioners, Health Department and Emergency Management Agency.
According to Bridges, as of 8 a.m. Thursday morning, April 2, Decatur County is operating under a “red” travel advisory, the highest level available to local officials.
This means travel is restricted for many people.
The Decatur County Health Department issued a social media statement that all [local] restaurants are closed, and that if you work out of town or travel to essential work between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. you should ask your employer for a letter confirming as much.
This ordinance remains in effect for seven days after adoption, until 8 a.m. April 9, 2020, and may be renewed by the Board of Commissioners.
During the warning period, all individuals are directed to:
(A) refrain from all travel if possible;
(B) comply with necessary emergency measures;
(C) cooperate with public officials and disaster services forces in executing emergency operations plans; and
(D) obey and comply with the lawful directions of properly identified officers.
Bridges elaborated on the declaration.
“At 10 p.m. every night, everything is closed. No gas stations. No Walmart. Everything is closed until 5 a.m. the next morning. When the governor declares a state of emergency (the current emergency status declared by Governor Holcomb earlier this week) then we can cite you further under that,” he said.
Bridges also said that all restaurants are closed as of 8 a.m. Thursday, April 2.
“Closed,” Bridges said. “No carry-out or delivery or anything,” he said. “I want people to understand that we will not necessarily be out looking for violators of the ordinance. You’re not getting pulled over if you’re going to the grocery store. It’s for the people that are out there blatantly ignoring the orders.”
“It’s the kids sitting in the parking lots at night, or congregating in places,” he continued. “And if you go out and you commit a crime while this is going on, we’re not only going to cite you for that, but we’ll also cite you with the B misdemeanor as well because you’re not supposed to be out.”
According to Bridges, the monetary fine for such as an infraction can be up to $1,000.
“If we cite you during this time, you will have to go before a judge and you could spend up to 180 days in jail,” he said.
“It’s unfortunate that we have to have these ordinances in place,” said Mayor Marsh. “But when we are trying to protect the people and the health of our community, it’s important that only those who are in official need of services are out and about throughout the community.”
Who is exempt?
Under IC 10-14-3-29.5(a)(3)(A), travel is restricted except by the following when traveling to and from, and only when the work cannot be done remotely:
a. Emergency Management workers, as defined by Indiana law;
b. All health care service providers, including doctor offices, hospitals, pharmacies, and therapy establishments, and those seeking emergency medical care;
c. Essential City of Greensburg and Decatur County governmental service offices;
d. Veterinarian clinics (for emergencies only);
e. Funeral homes;
g. Employees who work in public utilities infrastructure.
Between the hours of 5 a.m. and 10 p.m., these additional exemptions to the travel ban exist.
a. Grocery stores or other retailers and manufacturers/suppliers/processors of food (not to include restaurants or liquor stores);
b. Organizations providing essential services such as community food assistance;
c. Social service agencies, e.g. Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc.;
d. Utility and trash services;
e. Postal/delivery services;
f. Public transportation providers (for medical purposes only);
g. Agricultural operations;
h. Legal services;
j. Auto repair businesses (for emergencies only);
k. Those required by law enforcement or court order;
I. Banks and other financial institutions (only drive-thru service for customers);
m. Home-based healthcare services;
n. Critical trades where the work is necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, government agencies, and businesses engaged in essential activities and business operations:
iii. Operating engineers;
iv. Janitorial staff.
The ordinance further states:
When travelling for authorized purposes individuals must maintain social distancing, including proper hygiene and a minimum distance of six feet from individuals.
Businesses that must remain open to the public shall comply with Governor Holcomb’s Executive Order 20-08 § 17 by designating by signage or tape and enforcing six foot distances at places where lines of customers occur; making hand sanitizer readily available to employees and customer; operating separate hours for vulnerable populations; and displaying signage directing customers to do business by telephone or online means as the preferred mode of business.
In addition, all businesses open to the public must limit the number of customers in the business to a number that enforces social distancing and shall designate by signage or tape a six foot space where customers must wait outside before being permitted entry.
Pursuant to guidance from the Indiana and Decatur County Departments of Health, exercise outside such as walking, biking, or jogging is not considered prohibited travel on the condition that it is performed alone or with another member of your household. All existing limitations such as curfews and park hours remain in effect. All playgrounds are prohibited.
The Indiana Department of Homeland Security maintains a map detailing county emergency status in real time. It can be found at www.in.gov/dhs/traveladvisory/.