enforcement

Director of the St. Joseph Health Department Debra Bradley and city attorney Bryan Carter listen in to a work session on Tuesday where new social distancing guidelines were approved by the City Council.

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New restrictions on social gatherings and business operations put in place in St. Joseph this week are, ultimately, the authority of the city’s health department, but police intervention could happen in certain situations.

After approving the guidelines on Tuesday, which restrict crowd size to 10 people or less and stop some businesses from opening for the time being, Mayor Bill McMurray told News-Press NOW that the police department could enforce them, but likely won’t.

“To a certain extent they can, but this is going to come down to, again, personal responsibility,” McMurray said. “There are penalties in the city code. You can be fined or incarcerated, but I certainly don’t think we’re going to fine or incarcerate people.”

利众棋牌Police Chief Chris Connally said the enforcement is mostly up to the health department, and municipal regulations are a common thing that typically do not involve police action.

“I don’t actually think we need to get into the enforcement conversation, because responsible business owners will do what they’re required to do,” Connally said.

利众棋牌Director of the St. Joseph Health Department Debra Bradley said citations can be given and businesses owners could even lose their licenses if they refuse to comply, but right now the goal of her department is to inform the public of the new rules.

利众棋牌“We’re actually going to go out and try to encourage compliance,” Bradley said. “Some people may not even have heard. Maybe they don’t work in town... or maybe they’re just running their business.”

利众棋牌She said the same type of action taken in the early stages of the smoking ban passed in 2014 will be used now, but on a much more rapid scale. Health department representatives will go to businesses to inform them that they need to close or follow certain rules in the new order.

利众棋牌If a business owner refuses to follow those rules or does not close, they could be eventually sent to an administrative hearing where they could lose their license, but only after first being ticketed.

利众棋牌“I’m thinking though, after you get a ticket or two you’re going to comply, probably,” Bradley said.

She said the police department could get involved in certain situations to assist with enforcement.

利众棋牌Connally said his department’s involvement, aside from enforcing all of the same laws officers already do on a daily basis, will be only to respond to any kind of social disorder that could come about.

利众棋牌“We could be required to disperse a crowd, but that’s about it,” Connally said.

Connally and McMurray both stated that arresting someone and putting them in jail for violating the order would be impractical during a pandemic due to health concerns.

McMurray hopes that people will understand the importance of the temporary restrictions and urged business owners and customers to do the right thing.

利众棋牌“Come on, be personally responsible and we’ll all get through this together if we all work together and cooperate,” McMurray said.

Connally said if other, larger cities around the country have been able to enact these orders without threatening arrest, St. Joseph will be able to do so as well.

According to Bradley, the order does not allow her department to enforce the less-than-10-people rule at residences, meaning house parties and cookouts will not be regulated. However, she did strongly urge the public to follow that rule in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“Please, people, stay home,” she said.

利众棋牌The 15-day limitations began March 19 and are scheduled to end on April 2. However, the situation will continue to be evaluated and the guidelines could continue if deemed necessary.

Brendan Welch can be reached

at brendan.. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPWelch.