Joplin residents will be required to stay in their homes except for essential employment or errands under an order signed Friday by Mayor Gary Shaw.

The order goes into effect for two weeks at 12:01 a.m. Monday. It will be lifted at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, April 19, unless the city modifies it before then.

It allows residents to leave home for essential activity to buy groceries, pick up pharmacy items, or go for medical care or to help a relative.

"We have not had any surge in cases in Joplin with the virus; this is just an action we consider a proactive measure for 14 days for us to try to control the spreading of the COVID-19 virus in our community," the mayor said Friday morning in announcing the new restriction. City officials said March 25 they were considering the order.

He said he signed the order after talks with city staff, council members, representatives of other cities and observing what President Donald Trump and Gov. Mike Parson have done. The governor late Friday issued a similar order for the state.

"After 14 days, we will reevaluate the situation and see if the ordinance is needed to be extended or if we are making progress," he said.

Residents will not be stopped by authorities but the ordinance can be enforced if flagrant violations are reported or discovered, city officials said.

Joplin's ordinance is a less restrictive measure than some other stay-at-home orders that have been enacted in the state, though it came on the same day that  Gov. Mike Parson issued a statewide order.

"Our staff has looked at this and tried to do things that will help us as a community to be able to continue to operate the best we can," Shaw said. "But again, let me emphasize that the only way this stay-at-home order or any other ordinance will be effective is if you and me, as citizens, will listen to what we are being told and to do the things that we are being asked."

City officials said that there have been groups of people gathering at certain businesses and that there have been some large parties going on that have been noticed by police because they were not honoring the city's request that residents not gather in groups larger than 10 and stay at least 6 feet apart in keeping with federal and state social distancing guidelines.

The mayor addressed those gatherings in his remarks.

"We mention this every time, and I'm going to mention it again about gathering in groups. I love people and I love to hug people, and I miss that. But we have to realize that right now we are in a situation where we have to do things differently, and so the only way action we have taken today is going to make any difference is if we practice those health practices," Shaw said.

City Manager Nick Edwards thanked the mayor and said, "I know this was a decision that was not rushed into. It was a decision made with care and concern for all Joplin residents and businesses."

He asked residents to use the city website at joplinmo.org to find details or answer questions about the ordinance. Questions that are not answered there can be emailed to COVID19@joplinmo.org.

The ordinance allows resident to have outdoor activity such as biking, walking, hiking or running. However, it requires that social distancing be observed at any activities.

Residents also may go to work if they provide essential products or work for a business defined as essential.

The order closes businesses considered nonessential, mostly those that offer personal services such as hair or nail salons, tanning and gyms or workout centers.

Major categories of essential businesses listed in the order include:

• Health care and services.

• Veterinary care.

• Food and drink production and distribution, including grocery stores, convenient stores, markets and restaurants that offer food for delivery or carryout.

• Sanitation including laundromats, dry cleaners, household and business cleaning services, and supply stores.

• Transportation including gas stations, public transit, taxis, airports, railroads and other provide transportation providers.

• Financial services including banks, insurance providers, and professional services required to comply with legal and regulatory requirements.

• Professional services such as (legal services, accounting services and insurance services and real estate services including appraisal, inspection, mortgage and title services.

• Manufacturing and distribution of supplies and materials for essential businesses such as food along with trucking and supply chain work.

• Maintenance and construction of infrastructure and households.

• Child care.

• Essential government operations.

• Residential facilities such as hotels and motels.

• Media and communication, including newspapers, radio stations and television stations.

• Mailing, shipping, and delivery services.

The city has released a list of FAQs about the order, which can be read here. 

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