Ordinance to help businesses enforce enhanced safety measures is passed

Local News

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — This morning, the Amarillo City Council met for a second and final time to discuss an ordinance that declares “a site that fails to meet certain minimum standards designed to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 as a public nuisance.”

As a result of the meeting, Ordinance 7893 was passed with a vote of 4 to 1.

This ordinance is intended to provide additional justification and opportunity for local businesses to exercise enhanced safety measures inside their facilities.

As mentioned before, the ordinance does include a penalty clause.

Elaine Hays, Councilmember Place 1, voiced her concerns that the ordinance could bring resistance to wearing a mask.

Councilmember Hays stated, “We have their attention. Do we want to use a carrot or a stick in trying to get cooperation from our community? And at the end of the day, it is true. You can’t governor without the consent of the governed.”

Before the final vote, Mayor Ginger Nelson clarified the ordinance is not an executive order or trying an executive order.

“One of the reasons we’re doing this ordinance is we have the law in state law. It’s been there for a long time. What we’re trying to do with the city ordinance is to mirror what’s there in state law, so that we can administer this more quickly in city court,” explained Mayor Nelson.

Eddy Sauer, Councilmember Place 3, stated, “We’re in a desperate time and we need desperate help. We have to ask each one of us to do more. So, I see this as a critical crossroad.”

As the council expected, following today’s city council meeting, a volunteer from the community announced that he is planning to file an injunction against the ordinance.

Justin Miller, the volunteer, believes this ordinance is an infringement on the community’s freedom.

“Even though I fully respect what the doctors are doing and what they’re doing for us, they’re doing a great job, but they don’t run this town. They should not have the ability to take the freedoms away and the council is taking their position over the majority will of the people,” said Miller.

Additionally, Miller has set up a Gofundme to support the legal costs.

City Attorney, Bryan McWilliams, explained this ordinance would not be placing a burden on businesses and individuals.

McWilliams explained, “The CDC measures that are incorporated into this ordinance are the CDC measures that we’ve been – that all persons have been asked to follow now for months.”

Officials hope for this to provide motivation to businesses to ensure people inside their establishments are adhering to the guidelines in the Texas Health and Safety Code, along with Governor Abbott’s Executive Order GA-29.

For clarification purposes, it should be noted that this ordinance does and will not affect churches.

It should be noted that this ordinance is based on a state statue, requiring business sites to be operated in a way that does not spread disease.

Mayor Ginger Nelson clarified today that they have just taken that same language and made a sister-ordinance under City Law.

To see a draft of the ordinance, go here.

The City of Amarillo plans to post the full ordinance tomorrow.

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