• Staff

Branson Board of Aldermen passes stringent COVID-19 ordinances

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

By: Gary J. Groman

News Writer

Due to the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) crisis, the Branson Board of Aldermen, at two special meetings, one on March 19, passing Bill No. 5806 unanimously and the other on March 23, passing Bill No. 5807, with one ‘No’ vote, made changes to Chapter 58 of the Branson Municipal Code.

The amendments provide for the health, protection and safety of Branson’s residents and visitors. They are effective immediately and remain in effect until “greater of May 15, 2020, or the termination date of Missouri Governor Parsons Executive Order 20-02 if said order is extended in whole or in part.”

Here’s a summary of the changes with a cite to the specific section in Chapter 58, authorizing the change. 

Section 58-387(a) prohibits public and social gatherings of more than 10 people. Section 58-1 defines a “public or social gathering as “… a planned or spontaneous event with a number of people in attendance in a single space that could facilitate the spread of a communicable disease.”

Section 58-387(b) makes it unlawful for any person to operate an enclosed public place in a manner that exceeds 25 percent of the established occupant load of the enclosed public space. Section 58-387(b) states that it does not apply to “daycare facilities, health care facilities, and, within lodging establishments, is only applicable to the common areas.”

Section 58-387(c) requires social distancing of 6-feet or more among non-family members.

Section 58-388 (a) prohibits non-essential businesses from operating in the city. Section 58-1 defines “Essential Business” as “only daycare facilities which serve employees of essential businesses, health care facilities, grocery store, convenience food stores, service stations, drug stores, pharmacies, public service or telecommunications facilities, financial institutions, law firms, accounting firms, government offices and facilities, lodging establishments and restaurants or other businesses as deemed essential by the Emergency Management Director or the City Administrator.”

Section 58-389(a) Prohibits on-premises eating and drinking at any restaurant or business open to the public. Section 389(b) permits restaurants to operate an existing drive-thru or provide pickup or delivery options.

Section 58-390 prohibits visitation to nursing homes, long term care facilities, retirement homes or any facility where the number of guests over the age of 60 outnumbers those under the age of 60 unless that visit is to provide critical assistance or care.

The city’s press release announcing the changes to Chapter 58 points out that “violations of this ordinance carry a range of punishment of up to ninety days (90) in jail or up to a 500 dollar fine as set in the general penalty provision in Section 1-13 of the Branson Municipal Code.”

To view the entire ordinance, go to the city’s “Coronavirus/COVID-19 Resources and News,” on its website, at https://www.bransonmo.gov/DocumentCenter/View/12386/Ordinance-2020-0052. For additional information on the Ordinance call 

(417) 243-2780.

In talking about why he voted for Bill 5806, Third Ward Alderman Kevin McConnel said, “The medical community’s input about the seriousness of the Covid-19 threat was telling. I felt we needed to pass a measure to protect the citizens of Branson, its visitors, and, hopefully, minimize its spread and impact on our community.”

The provisions of Bill 5806 were reasonable, related primarily to limiting the social gathering of more than 10 people and, while permitting businesses to operate, limited that operation to 25 percent of the established occupant load.

“My lone vote against Bill 5807 on March 23, was because, from a business perspective, it picked winners and losers,” McConnel said. “Some businesses deemed ‘essential’ can remain open while all others believed, ‘non-essential’ must close. In my opinion, given the ordinances already in place relating to groups of more than 10 people and limiting the number of people that can be in a business to 25 percent of the established occupant load, closing Branson businesses deemed ‘non-essential’ does little to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 Virus and penalizes our smaller businesses needlessly.

“I think viruses can be passed just as easily at Walmart as anywhere else. Walmart, even though it sells much more than groceries, can remain open because ‘grocery stores’ are considered ‘essential business.’ On the other hand, a local dress shop cannot remain open because it’s not an ‘essential business.’ If I want to purchase a dress for my daughter, I can’t go to the local dress shop and buy it, even though it complies with all social distancing and occupancy load requirements because it’s a ‘non-essential business,’ but I can buy it at Walmart. In my opinion, that penalizes the local dress shop while doing little to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 Virus.”

“I’m very thankful for the leadership we have at the Taney County Health Department and the surrounding cities as they deal with the Covid-19 issue,” said Jeff Seifried, president, and CEO of the Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and CVB. “There have been multiple discussions to date on how to best protect the residents, visitors, businesses and employees. I expect that, in the near future, the Taney County Health Department, in conjunction with other cities in the area, will be issuing a joint statement that will provide guidelines that will protect and inform the residents of Taney County regarding the Covid-10 Virus.” 

Branson Ward 2 Alderman Larry Milton said that he would be very interested in reviewing the joint statement and comparing its guidelines to Branson’s Ordinances. When asked if he would be inclined to suggest revisiting the city’s ordinances involving the Covid-19 Virus if they were substantially more restrictive than those in the joint statement, Milton said, “Yes, it makes sense to have our guidelines in alignment with those of the region.”

[Special Note: The information in this article is current as of 8 a.m. March 26. It changes rapidly. Two good sources to get the most current information on what is going on in Branson is ‘Branson Covid-19 Discussions’ on Facebook and ‘Coronavirus/COVID-19 Resources and News’ on the city’s web site http://www.bransonmo.gov/805/Coronavirus-Information.

To contact Gary Groman, a.k.a. The Ole Seagul, email info@bransonglobe.com

The iconic Presleys Theatre, along with the rest of Branson's shows, is closed because of the Corona Covid-19 Virus. (Special to Branson Globe)

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