Update: Ordinance No. 3525 was approved by a unanimous vote of the City Council on March 23. The Community Development Department will begin notifying affected businesses on Tuesday, March 24.
Covid-19 pandemic prompts proposed closure order for some local businesses
The Bartlesville City Council will hold an emergency meeting Monday during which Mayor Dale Copeland will declare a State of Emergency for the city in response to Covid-19, the coronavirus deemed a pandemic by the World Health Organization. The meeting will begin shortly after 7 p.m. on March 23 at City Hall, 401 S. Johnstone Ave.
Following the declaration, the council will consider approval of an ordinance outlining several provisions, including measures already enacted by the council as well as further restricting access to some local businesses — up to and including closure.
“The past few weeks and days have seen rapid change due to the Covid-19 virus spread across the world,” said Copeland. “Our lives have been altered and the outcome is still unknown. A time of crisis and challenge is now upon us and we will rise to that challenge, as our parents and grandparents did in their times. We face a massive medical battle against an invisible and still largely unknown viral enemy.
“We are fully aware that any decision will find detractors on both sides. I remain keenly aware that this period of disruption will leave some without steady incomes and imperil business owners whose work and even life savings have been poured into their business. But the time to act has come, and we will exert every effort to meet the call to battle this enemy called Covid-19.”
Public access: Closures and restrictions
If approved on Monday, effective at 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 24:
- Bars that do not provide items for off-premises consumption will be closed to the public.
- Bars that provide items for off-premises consumption, breweries, taverns and restaurants will be restricted to providing only drive-through, take-out or delivery of food, sale of pre-packaged alcohol as authorized for sale under state law, or sale of other retail items as authorized for sale under state law. The public will not be allowed to enter these establishments. These restrictions will not apply to institutional or in-house food cafeterias that service residents, employees and clients of businesses, child care facilities, hospitals and/or medical clinics, and long-term care facilities.
“Essentially, these closures apply to businesses that do not sell items that can be delivered to the public without allowing public access,” said City Manager Mike Bailey. “Any business that can lawfully sell goods to the public without allowing anyone on the premises may remain open but will be limited to take-out and delivery service.”
Additionally, the following places must be closed to the public and anyone else other than personnel necessary for maintenance of the facility and grounds:
- Athletic gyms, exercise facilities, indoor sports facilities, indoor climbing facilities, bowling alleys, skating rinks, trampoline parks and similar recreational facilities
- Movie theaters
- Shopping mall food courts
Tattoo shops, massage therapists, barber shops, haircut and styling shops and spas may operate only under the following conditions:
- By appointment with no walk-in customers.
- Appointments may not be scheduled and held within 15 minutes of the preceding appointment.
- Clients may not bring any other person, including children, into the facility during an appointment.
- Workstations must have a minimum of six feet of space from the adjoining workstation to promote social distancing.
Businesses restricted or closed by the temporary regulations can apply to receive a temporary 25 percent discount on City utility bills while the regulations remain in effect. (Businesses subject to these limitations found to be in violation of these regulations by City officials will be ineligible for the discount.)
These restrictions do not apply to:
- Places of public accommodation that offer food and beverage not for on-premises consumption, including grocery stores, markets, convenience stores, pharmacies, drug stores and food pantries.
- Health care facilities, child care facilities, residential care facilities, and congregate care facilities.
- Crisis shelters, soup kitchens, or similar institutions.
Ordinance strengthens existing measures
The City Council voted March 18 to adopt Covid-19 Mitigation Measures Resolution 3592, a resolution calling for several measures aimed at reducing spread of the disease. Those measures, which went into place at 11:59 p.m. March 18, are included and, in some cases, strengthened in the emergency ordinance.
- All existing special event permits are revoked and no further special event permits will be issued while these measures remain in effect.
- Municipal Court is suspended other than by teleconference where required. No further failure to appear warrants will be issued or served while these measures remain in effect.
- All code enforcement hearings are suspended while these measures remain in effect.
- Public gatherings of greater than 10 people will not be allowed at any City owned or managed facilities except as required by law. All reservations of City facilities are suspended. Deposits held for any current reservations will be refunded in full.
- Further utility cutoffs are suspended, and the City Manager is directed to reestablish service for any disconnected customer. Amounts due will not be forgiven.
- City-owned pools will not be opened while these measures are in effect.
- The Bartlesville Public Library and Bartlesville Area History Museum are closed to the public.
- All City board and committee meetings are hereby canceled except for City Council and Authority meetings. Authorities are encouraged to meet only when absolutely necessary. When meeting, the City Council and Authorities are required to utilize the provisions of Senate Bill 661 and to conduct only teleconference meetings where technologically possible. In order to simplify implementation of teleconference meetings, the requirement for citizens to be heard is suspended for all meetings during the duration of this emergency.
- The use of City-owned meeting rooms for public gatherings of any size is prohibited. Meeting rooms may still be used by City staff when necessary.
- All in-person gatherings for social, spiritual and recreational purposes, including but not limited to community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based, or sporting events; parades, concerts, festivals, conventions, fundraisers and similar activities are strongly discouraged while these measures are in effect.
As long as these measures remain in effect, the ordinance also authorizes the chief of police and the Bartlesville Police Department to strictly enforce Oklahoma’s existing prohibition against the willful exposure of those affected by contagious diseases in public places and thoroughfares as provided by Oklahoma law.
Further review: Advisory Board
Approval of the ordinance will also permit the creation of the COVID-19 Emergency Advisory Board. The Board will include the mayor and vice mayor, city manager, fire chief, police chief, medical experts, emergency management, county government and others deemed necessary by the mayor and vice mayor.
“The advisory board will review the measures instituted by the ordinance and make recommendations to the council on amendments that might be needed as we navigate through these unprecedented times,” Bailey said.
Task force: Economic recovery
Additionally, the Bartlesville Development Authority would be directed to create a task force to study the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The task force would likely consist of economic, medical and economic development experts, a member of the City Council and the Bartlesville Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“The task force would focus on current business retention, small business assistance during the current crisis, and a path to eventual economic recovery when this crisis has passed,” said Bailey.
The meeting will be held immediately following the already scheduled council meeting beginning at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 401 S. Johnstone Ave. In accordance with the Oklahoma Open Meetings Act, the public will be permitted. Council meetings are live-streamed via the City’s website, www.cityofbartlesville.org, which is strongly encouraged during this time.
For more information, see: