Because of the present Covid-19 Corona Virus (Virus) Catastrophe, the Branson Board of Aldermen, in two special meetings, one on March 19, approved Bill No. 5806 unanimously and another on March 23, passing Bill No. 5807, with a single “No” vote. These bills amend Chapter 58 of the Branson Municipal Code, providing some of the most restrictive Covid-19 Corona Virus ordinances in SW Missouri. The Ordinances are intended to protect Branson’s visitors and residents from the dangers the Virus imposes. They are mandatory immediately and are in effect until the “greater of May 15, 2020, or the termination date of Missouri Governor Parsons Executive Order 20-02 if said order is extended in whole or in part.”
A “nutshell review” of each of the changes along with the particular Ordinance in Chapter 58, making the change is as follows:
Public or Social Gatherings of more than ten people
Section 58-387(a) forbids public and social gatherings of more than ten people. Section 58-1 defines a “Public or social gathering as “a planned or spontaneous event with a number of people in attendance in a single space that could facilitate the spread of a communicable disease.” This provision has lead to the virtual closing of all of Branson’s live shows.
25% of authorized public occupancy for all enclosed public areas
Section 58-387(b) makes it unlawful for any person to operate an enclosed public place in a manner that exceeds 25% of its established occupant load. If a small grocery store has an authorized occupancy load of 200, it may only allow, including employees, 50 people at a time into the store. This provision does not apply to “daycare facilities, health care facilities, and, within lodging establishments, is only applicable to the common areas.”
Social Distancing of at least 6 feet from others
Section 58-387(c) states that it’s unlawful for any person to fail to maintain at least six feet of distance between themselves and any individuals that are not family members. (Authors Note: Interestingly, there is no exception for health care workers or specific businesses from this requirement. Can you walk down most aisles in Walmart and maintain six feet distance from others?)
Only business deemed “Essential” may operate within the city
Section 58-388 (a) forbids non-essential businesses from operating in the city. Section 58-1 defines an “Essential Business” as “only daycare facilities which serve employees of essential businesses, health care facilities, grocery store, convenience food stores, service stations, drug stores, pharmacies, public service or telecommunications facilities, financial institutions, law firms, accounting firms, government offices and facilities, lodging establishments, and restaurants or other businesses as deemed essential by the Emergency Management Director or the City Administrator.”
No on-premises eating or drinking
Under Section 58-389(a) eating or drinking on the premises of any restaurant, bar, or business open to the public is forbidden. They may, however, operate existing drive-thrus or provide pickup or delivery options.
Prohibition against visiting nursing homes, long term care centers, etc.
Section 58-390 makes it unlawful to visit long term care facilities, “nursing homes, retirement homes, or any facility, where the number of guests over the age of sixty outnumbers those under the age of sixty unless that visit is to provide critical assistance or care.”
Violations of ordinances can result in jail or fines
The press release announcing the Ordinance changes said, “Violations of this Ordinance carry a range of punishment of up to ninety days (90) in jail or up to a 500 dollar fine as set in the general penalty provision in Section 1-13 of the Branson Municipal Code.”
The entire Ordinance is available at “Coronavirus/COVID-19 Resources and News,” on the city’s website, at https://www.bransonmo.gov/DocumentCenter/View/12386/Ordinance-2020-0052. Anyone desiring additional information on the Ordinance should call (417) 243-2780.