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EL City Council passes resolution requiring compliance with public health orders

October 14, 2020
<p>Residents wearing masks in downtown East Lansing on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020.</p>

Residents wearing masks in downtown East Lansing on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020.

East Lansing City Council unanimously passed a resolution adopting an emergency ordinance requiring compliance with Ingham County public health orders at the Tuesday night meeting.

Any person who violates a public health order issued by the state of Michigan, the Ingham County Health Department or the Clinton County Health Department can receive a civil infraction of $500.

"We're not dealing with something that is unique to this city," Mayor Aaron Stephens said. "We're dealing with something where people's lives are at stake. And there needs to be a level of importance on that, that I think every member of this community should have."

Newly appointed ELPD Chief Kim Johnson said that they are prepared to begin enforcement this weekend, and that he has communicated with the courts to process these tickets.

Stephens said that if a violation with an MSU student occurs, they will be sending those violations directly to the university as well.

"I'm happy that we've been working with our public health officials at MSU and all these different agencies and community members that are all doing the right thing, so many people doing the right thing," Stephens said. "But a small portion of the population is going to take that work and throw it down the drain. And so I am happy to have this ordinance in place now. And I'm proud to be the one moving it even though I understand completely the gravity of something like this being done."

This emergency ordinance came following the recent Michigan Supreme Court's decision, which made many COVID-19 related executive orders issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer no longer enforceable.

The City Council found that an emergency ordinance requiring compliance was immediately necessary to protect the public health, safety and welfare of community members.

City Manager George Lahanas also said with game days approaching, it is important to have tools in place for enforcement in case of large parties.

This order applies specifically to the Ingham County public health orders, such as requiring a 25-person limit on outdoor gatherings and a 10-person limit on indoor gatherings. This order does not apply to the downtown mask requirement.

"The primary one really is if people exceed 25 people in the exterior, or 10 people interior to a house, obviously, it's a little bit more difficult to enforce 10 people interior to a house because they can't be from the same household," Lahanas said. "But you have to be able to observe something or observe that to be able to write that infraction. The most clear one that I can see is, and we've had problems as people collecting in front yards, and drinking and socializing in yards. And that would be the primary area here is trying to limit people's gathering. So, if they go over 25, take enforcement."

Private residences who do not comply with the gathering limits will be subject to a civil fine of $500. This emergency ordinance remains in effect through Dec. 31, 2020.

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