by Sarah Thomack
St. Joseph Post
The City of St. Joseph, over the weekend, announced a shelter-in-place order will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday and last through April 2nd.
Thomas Beavers is an Environmental Specialist with the City of St. Joseph and is helping to answer questions at the City's COVID-19 Call Center.
Beavers says the majority of calls they have been receiving about the new order have been from businesses asking what are considered essential and non-essential services.
“Just about every business you can think of has called to find out where they rank in that,” Beavers says. “If you are a business in St. Joe or an industry, someone has called this number to find out if they are essential or non-essential.”
St. Joseph Mayor Bill McMurray says the rising number of coronavirus cases in the state was a factor in the decision to implement a shelter-in-place order.
“It’s going to be our turn, we think, in the not too distant future,” McMurray says. “The advice given is to take these proactive measures early before the cases start spreading, so that’s what we’re trying to do by issuing a shelter in place order.”
McMurray says there are enforcement options, but the order is mainly requesting personal responsibility from residents.
"If a business flaunts the order and decides to go ahead and operate, we could enact penalties, but really I just want to appeal to everybody's sense of personal responsibility, we are in a very serious situation here and (COVID-19) is very easily contracted by personal contact, so to any degree you can avoid personal contact, that's what you should do."
An amended order was issued Monday morning to clarify which businesses are considered essential and non-essential. View the full order by clicking here. Anyone with questions about the shelter-in-place order or other city issues regarding the COVID-19 pandemic can contact the city's call center at (816) 271-4613.
Call center hours are from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.