EDMOND, Okla. — The City Council voted unanimously Wednesday evening to declare an emergency regarding COVID-19 in consideration of its potential impact on the community. The declaration was declared to be effective at midnight and continue until April 6 unless the city council directs changes.
City Manager Larry Stevens explained the city’s management of the virus situation.
The Edmond Senior Center was closed on Monday, he said. Stevens said the city’s administration building at 7 N. Broadway was set to close at 7 a.m. Thursday. Included in that building are the Utility Customer Services Offices, the Human Resource Department, and the Finance Department. City workers are wiping down city park facilities on a regular basis.
“We have no utility customers who are currently disconnected in any of the houses in our community that are occupied,” Stevens said.
Anyone unable to pay utility bills will have an additional 30 days to do so at this time.
The Kickingbird Golf Course remains open for regular play. There are no plans to disrupt the Citylink bus services. Each bus is cleaned and sanitized on a regular basis every night. All Citylink users must maintain a distance of at least 3 feet, said Steve Murdock, city attorney.
Stevens was asked by the Municipal League to mention potential help for small businesses. A small business loan package was set to be available online Thursday. To access the link, Stevens said to go online to https://www.eeda.com/ for updates.
“There will be no hardship requirements for this loan application,” Stevens said.
Small businesses will be eligible for loan application up to $2 million for operational purposes only. The terms of the loan will be for up to 30 years. The interest rate was projected to be approximately 3.25% to 3.75%. Non profits can also apply for this program with a 2% interest rate.
“The variables in this situation change not only daily, but several times a day,” Stevens said. City staff is trying their best to keep the community and the city’s 800 city employees informed about developments.
Murdock said the proclamation closely resembles the processes adopted by the City of Oklahoma City.
The proclamation states that all previously approved special event permits from March 18 through April 19 are revoked. All events with more than 50 participants at city-owned and -operated facilities are suspended, Murdock said. Bars without on-premise food service shall be closed to public, he continued.
“Bars with on-service food service, breweries, taverns, and restaurants are restricted to providing only takeout or delivery of food and sell only prepackaged alcohol to sale under state law,” Murdock said.
The provision does not include institutional or in-house cafeterias serving residents, employees, child care facilities, hospitals, or longterm care facilities, Murdock said.
Also through April 6, athletic gyms, exercise facilities, indoor sports facilities, indoor climbing facilities, bowling alleys, skating rinks, movie theaters, and food courts are restricted to the public except for maintenance purposes, he said.
Edmond citizens are asked to put distance between themselves and all other people to reduce their risk of coronavirus exposure.
“I might add that the next scheduled meeting for the city council is next Monday night, March 23. I have placed items on the agenda that we can amend or make changes to this declaration,” Murdock said.
REAL LIFE PAIN FOR BUSINESSES
City Councilman Josh Moore said the provision of 50 or less participants at a public gathering is a moving target for reconsideration.
Mayor Dan O’Neil said city staff contacted about 25 restaurants in Edmond. All but eight of those restaurants had already initiated take-out only, O’Neil said. Councilman Massey said customers are still allowed to go inside a restaurant to pick-up their orders.
“There’s a lot of individual situations that are just heart rending,” O’Neil said. “There’s a family that I met that was supposed to open a business this week. They didn’t know what to do. And so they’re trying to figure things out. And that’s hard to listen to.
“We all get caught in situations and we’re unlucky. That’s all I can say about that.”
Linda Grimes and her husband own the Lemonade House at Danforth and Kelly. They are still struggling after 15 months of being in business.
“I would like to respectfully request that the regulations for the temporary signage be relaxed at this time so we can advertise to go and deliver at the street level,” she said.
Massey and Moore said Grimes made a reasonable point for the city to make happen.
“I think it’s critical that we do everything possible for all of our businesses,” City Councilman Darrell Davis said.
Cheryl Janis of Olde Farm Lane said servers in restaurants rely on tips. She was told by a restaurant owner that only every other person is tipping for to go orders.
“I hope you guys would reconsider this at your next meeting because it’s really, really hurting our servers,” Janis said.
Janis is the owner of Autoworks, an Edmond auto repair shop. She said her business is being fogged with an antibacterial and virus remover.
“That’s another thing business can do if they wanted,” she said.
O’Neil said he encourages the community to support restaurants by purchasing gift cards.
“If we can be a little bit gracious with our gift cards and things like that, maybe it might be the answer for us,” O’Neil said. “Believe you me, the business community is resourceful. They will find a way to make this happen. And we already see many have adjusted their business model to accommodate the situation.”
Josh Moore said he wants to extend his appreciation to the Edmond Police Department’s work during a challenging period.
In a time of social distancing, safe public interaction has always been a standard procedure of the Edmond Police Department, Edmond Police Department spokeswoman Emily Ward told The Edmond Sun.
Police officers often come in contact with people who might expose them to infectious diseases, Ward said.
Every officer receives a personal protective equipment (PPE) device when hired. Officers can wear the equipment to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious injuries and illnesses, Ward said.
“During this time our officers have been encouraged to use their best judgement when coming in contact with people,” Ward said. “This might entail using their PPE or something as simple as finding a place to stop in and wash their hands from time to time."
Effective immediately upon signing of the Declaration of Emergency:
• The City is revoking all previously approved special event permits between March 19-April 19.
• All events or meetings of 50 or more people at City owned-operated facilities are suspended until further notice.
• The City Manager is directed to not discontinue water and utility services for customers unable to pay their bills for a period of 30 days.
• All Citylink passengers must maintain a distance of at least 3 feet from other users when possible.
• All bars without on-premises food service, hookah bars, cigar bars, and vaping lounges shall be closed to the public effective 12:01 a.m., Thursday, March 19, 2020, through April 6, 2020. This does not prohibit the presence of personnel required for the maintenance of the facility or grounds. All other persons are restricted from such places.
• All bars with on-premises food service, breweries, taverns, and restaurants are restricted to providing only take-out or delivery of food and sale of pre-packaged alcohol authorized for sale under state law effective 12:01 am, Thursday, March 19, 2020 through April 6, 2020. Such locations are otherwise closed to the public and persons, other than employees, are restricted from such places for any other purpose. This provision does not include institutional or in-house cafeterias serving residents, employees, childcare facilities, hospitals or long-term care facilities.
CLOSED TO PUBLIC
The following places are closed to the public and all persons, except personnel necessary for maintenance of the facility and grounds, are restricted from such places effective 12:01 am, Thursday, March 19, 2020 through April 6, 2020:
• Athletic gyms, exercise facilities, indoor sports facilities, indoor climbing facilities, bowling alleys, skating rinks, trampoline parks, and similar recreational facilities.
• Movie theaters.
• Food courts.
Additionally, the City of Edmond is taking measures in the coming days to limit access to some city buildings.