Farmington Mayor Larry Forsythe issued a “Proclamation of Civil Emergency” on Tuesday morning.
The proclamation is mainly designed to allow the city police department to enforce city closures due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“If you are at the park right now and playing on a piece of playground equipment that we have ribboned off, and you take the ribbon down, we can do nothing to you,” Forsythe said. “With this emergency, we have the authority to fine you or arrest you.”
City Administrator Greg Beavers said that they started posting notices and putting up security tape and that some of the public had not been compliant, necessitating the order.
“We had done an administrative order to close the facilities and expect folks to adhere to that closure”, he said. “We weren’t getting compliance with it. The Civil Emergency Declaration by the mayor invokes a municipal ordinance violation for violating any of those closures. It gives the police the ability to enforce the closure if needed.
“Our tact is going to be simply if we somebody playing on a playground, we give them a warning first. If people are belligerent about not adhering to it, the police have the ability to cite them for a municipal ordinance violation.”
Beavers admits that some of the communications with the public lately may have been unclear on the status of parks and other facilities.
“I was putting out press releases on pretty short order,” he said. “We’ve closed some parks where there was a gate to them, but it isn’t practical to close some of our parks, because we are not going to close off 100 acres of parkland.
"The open areas are still accessible to people to utilize, we just encourage them to maintain proper safe distancing. We are fencing off the playgrounds, pavilions, the basketball courts, those kinds of things with orange fencing so that people can’t be on them. We are marking them as closed by order of the mayor pursuant to that section of the code. We are not going to be the playground police, so to speak. But, the public health officials tell us this is a serious matter. We are going to respect that advice and treat it as a serious matter.”
The county has approved a stay-at-home order that goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday.
Mark Marberry is a reporter for the Farmington Press and Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3629, or at email@example.com
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