The Mitchell City Council will go ahead with a special meeting tonight to potentially authorize a city shutdown of some businesses.
Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson said Monday afternoon that the meeting will occur at 6 p.m. Monday at the Corn Palace, despite Davison County's COVID-19 case count remaining at two. A second reading of the city's proposed shutdown ordinance will be held at the meeting.
Initially, the council was planning to hold the second reading of the ordinance that would call for a city-wide shutdown dependent on whether Mitchell received any new COVID-19 case numbers that were deemed to be community spread as of Monday afternoon. But Everson decided to go ahead with the meeting anyway.
The first reading of the ordinance was unanimously approved on March 23.
For the virus to reach the level of community spread in the city of Mitchell, an individual who gets infected with the virus would have had to contract it through an unknown source without traveling. There were a total of two positive cases of the virus detected in Davison County as of Monday, according to the South Dakota Department of Health.
The ordinance to allow for a city shutdown was an effort to reduce the potential spread of the novel coronavirus. Mitchell’s city-wide shutdown would include the closures of businesses in which people congregate such as restaurants, bars, coffeehouses, movie theaters and recreational facilities, among others. However, Everson said grocery stores, pharmacies, and some additional retailers, along with other essential establishments, would be permitted to remain open throughout the duration of the shutdown. In addition, unrestricted travel would be permitted under the city shutdown.
Should the shutdown be approved in the city of Mitchell, the council and mayor could call a meeting at any time to rescind or repeal the emergency ordinance.
As far as enforcement goes for a city shutdown, City Attorney Justin Johnson said the council would have the authority to determine how the city enforces penalties for those who don’t comply with the shutdown. For residents or businesses who violate the shutdown, the existing language of the ordinance would call for a maximum penalty that includes a $500 fine and/or a maximum of 30 days in jail, Johnson said.
According to Johnson, the ordinance allows restaurants and fast food establishments to provide takeout and delivery services during the shutdown, which he said a number of local restaurants have already been transitioning toward incorporating.
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