City of Blue Ridge declares State of Emergency, shelter in place

  • COVID-19 Update
    COVID-19 Update

The City of Blue Ridge has declared a Public Health State of Emergency and a mandatory shelter in place order Wednesday, March 25.

The ordinance states that all public gatherings of five or more people, on any property owned by the city, is prohibited, with the exception of roads and sidewalks.

A curfew, effective Thursday, March 26, will be imposed from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

A temporary closure of non-essential businesses is also part of the ordinance. All essential businesses must maintain a six-foot social distancing for both customers and employees and signage outlining this must be posted on entrance doors.

Short-term rentals, hotels and bed and breakfast businesses that facilitate non-residents are temporarily suspended unless they are facilitating basic operations for essential operations. Reservations that were paid before Monday, March 23 and are currently being occupied may be carried out. The suspension is effective through April 15, but may be extended if necessary.

Dine-in services are restricted. Delivery and carry-out are permitted with the six-foot social distancing practice. Beer and wine may be sold by restaurants and bars within a closed container.

Deadlines for purchasing or obtaining persons or businesses occupational tax certificates, filing of returns, payment of taxes, permits or similar civil approvals mandated by the city are paused and no penalty will be issued.

The city will not disconnect any water or sewer services provided by the city for non-payment.

The ordinance permits the mayor and mayor pro-tem to authorize a set of rules and regulations regarding discretionary and non-discretionary services and employees.

In the event the mayor is unable to perform her duties due to incapacitation or illness quarantine, the mayor pro-tem is designated as the emergency interim successor.

Residents of another state, county or city who are subject to a stay-at-home order or restriction and are not currently, physically present in the city may not enter the City of Blue Ridge. This does not include travel on state or federal highways, provided the vehicle doesn’t stop.

The city waves the 48 hour notice of open meetings, but must provide notice of at least 24 hours prior.

Open records requests will be responded to, but in-person requests are suspended.

Any violators of the ordinance may receive a civil fine of $1,000 per violation.

Any conflict of any other law or rule, except at the state level, will be governed by the ordinance.

The mandatory shelter in place order states that all residents of the City of Blue Ridge stay at their place of residence with the exception of performing essential activities, essential governmental functions or to perform work at essential businesses.

Essential activities include going to the grocery stores, taking care of pets, obtaining any needed supplies, going to state parks, walking, hiking, fishing (all not on city property). All activities must be in compliance with social distancing requirements.

Caring for a family member or a pet in another household is also allowed.

Individuals may leave residences to work for or obtain services at any “healthcare operations” including hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmacies, pharmaceutical, biotechnical companies, veterinary care and all healthcare services provided to animals.

Healthcare operations does not include fitness and exercise gyms.

City Attorney James Balli said, “If you don’t need to go to the doctor or get food or to exercise ... then you should stay at home.”

An essential business includes healthcare operations and essential infrastructure, grocery stores, all establishments engaged in the retail sale of canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supply, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, and any other household consumer products (such as cleaning and personal care products), food cultivation, including farming, livestock, and fishing, businesses that provide food, shelter and social services, and other necessities of life, newspapers, television, radio and other media services, gas stations, auto-supply, auto repair, and related facilities, banks and related financial institutions and pawn shops, hardware stores, plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences and essential businesses, businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes, educational institutions-including public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities, laundromats, dry cleaners and laundry service providers, restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, cafeterias in hospitals, nursing homes, or similar facilities, businesses that supply products needed for people to work from home, businesses that supply other essential businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate, businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to residences, home-based care for seniors, adults, or children, residential facilities and shelters for seniors, adults and children, professional services, such as legal or accounting services, childcare facilities, construction services and utility, water, sewer, gas, electrical, oil refining, roads and highways, railroads, public transportation, taxi/ride-share, solid waste collection and removal and internet and telecommunications systems.