Updated: Apr 8, 2020
By Brenda Meadows
During its Thursday, March 19 meeting, Branson’s Board of Aldermen unanimously passed Bill No. 5806 that prohibited “planned or spontaneous events with 10 or more people” and also prohibited “businesses from exceeding 25% of their occupant load in enclosed public places.”
“This will have the effect of making sure appropriate social distance guidelines can be met,” said City of Branson Communications Manager Melody Pettit.
This was an amendment to Chapter 58 of the Branson Municipal Code pertaining to public gatherings, designed to limit the spread of COVID-19 within the City of Branson by implementing social distancing and public gathering mandates and recommendations set by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other public health agencies.
Following the vote, a resolution was signed that encouraged Branson residents to implement the COVID-19 mitigation strategies laid out by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute of Health the members laid out resolutions. Daycares and medical facilities are exempt from the occupant load requirement.
There were Branson citizens at the meeting that were not in agreement with the Bill No. 5806 because they felt “the measures needed to be stronger.”
“Of course we feel that the issue is the public health.” said Touch of Class Co-owners Bob Nichols and Lana Johnson. “We both were disappointed that the measures were not stronger. The city attorney listed four levels of constraint from which to choose. They went with level two.”
Johnson said she was “very disappointed” the Board of Alderman didn’t pass more extreme measures. “Limiting to just 25% of normal max capacity for businesses and restaurants, still leaves the potential for large numbers of people inside any given space. There are big stores that could still have 100 people shopping, trying on clothes, touching merchandise, using bathrooms. The virus lives on plastic for three days. There’s no way to disinfect every plastic item in a store.”
Many Branson residents took to Facebook to voice their concerns with the vote to allow the 25% occupant load in businesses.
But their concerns were short lived since Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced on Saturday, March 21 that the state health director will ban gatherings of more than 10 people to help combat the spread of the coronavirus.
And state law supersedes municipal codes.
“As the COVID-19 crisis continues to develop, this is a critical step in protecting the health and safety of Missourians,” Governor Parson said. “I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for all citizens to practice social distancing and abide by this order, which is backed by intense deliberation and knowledge.”
Then new orders were issued.
The Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services, finding it necessary to protect public health and prevent the further spread of COVID-19, pursuant to the authority granted under section 192.020, RSMo, hereby orders the following:
1. In accordance with the guidelines from the President and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, every person in the State of Missouri shall avoid social gatherings of more than ten (10) people. For purposes of this Order, “social gatherings” shall mean any planned or spontaneous event or convening that would bring together more than ten (10) people in a single space at the same time.
2. In accordance with the guidelines from the President and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, every person in the State of Missouri shall avoid eating or drinking at restaurants, bars, or food courts; provided, however, that the use of drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options is allowed throughout the duration of this Order.
3. In accordance with the guidelines from the President and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, people shall not visit nursing homes, long-term care facilities, retirement homes, or assisted living homes unless to provide critical assistance.
4. In accordance with the guidelines from the President and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, schools shall remain closed. This Order does not prohibit schools from providing child care and Food and Nutritional Services for those children that qualify. Teachers and staff may enter the building as long as they follow the directives set forth in this Order.
“I appreciate that the Governor finally stepped up to limit crowds,” said Johnson. “We’re already behind the 8 ball. The only way to slow this freight train of a virus, is to all do it together, as a nation. The sooner we slow it, the sooner we can all get back to work.”
For information about COVID-19 consult the Taney County Health Department at tchd.org.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced on Saturday, March 21 that the state health director will ban gatherings of more than 10 people to help combat the spread of the coronavirus.