COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
A stay-at-home order will go into effect in Boone County and Columbia at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning. Under that order, city and health officials will be able to take action if businesses or individuals do not comply with the order.
Under the order, people will only be allowed to leave their homes for essential services like buying groceries or going to medical appointments. The director of the Columbia/Boone County Health Department said anyone who leaves their home during the order should still practice social distancing.
Anyone who wants to report an individual or business not complying with the order can report it to the city by calling 573-874-2489 or emailing City@CoMo.gov.
During a press conference announcing the order would go into effect, Columbia Mayor Brian Treece said the city is working to train employees to help enforce the order.
"When we do get a complaint that a business may be violating this order that we will spend the business inspector or rental inspector to advise them of the public health director's advice and direction," he said.
He said the city would try to work with businesses, but if the business does not comply, it will be reported to the public health director.
The order states the city is relying on the common sense and goodwill of residents to follow the order. If someone is caught not complying they can be punishable by fine, imprisonment or both.
The city attorney is allowed to take appropriate action if someone does not comply.
St. Louis put a similar stay-at-home order into effect Monday.
"It is a class A misdemeanor to violate a public health emergency order, punishable by up to $2,000 in fines. That's not our first option, we don't want to do that, but it is an option that we would exercise if we have to," said Jacob Long, a spokesperson from the mayor's office.
Long said these types of orders are not an easy decision for local government officials to make.
"I just would stress that these aren't decisions local governments are making lightly. We wish we didn't have to make them, we think it's for the betterment for all of us and to protect the health and safety of everyone," he said.