Groups of more than 50 banned through August: Radford adopts new crowd ordinance

Published: Aug. 4, 2020 at 11:25 PM EDT
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RADFORD, Va. (WDBJ) - Tuesday, Radford’s City Council held a second emergency meeting to address large gatherings. Now that students are returning, the population will be doubled.

Originally, two ordinances were on the table. One to provide guidance on gatherings and another on mask wearing. Ultimately the mask ordinance was tabled until Monday’s regular city council meeting as there is a new NRV campaign rolling out this week to address the issue.

“If we’re not able to accomplish the goal through a simple partnership, we might revisit the actual ordinance,” said Mayor David Horton. “If we work with the mask promotion program and we don’t see anyone wearing masks, we may have to revisit the mask ordinance.”

With the 5-0 passing of modified Ordinance 1734, police will be able to enforce groups over 50. If you’re the host, you could be fined $300 plus court fees. If you attended the gathering and didn’t disperse after being asked by an officer, that could be up to a $150 fine plus court fees.

Click here for the list of ordinance measures.

“By doing what we did tonight we accomplished one of our goals, which was to have a tool for our officers to address large gatherings, which was one of the most immediate problems that we observed this past week,” Horton said.

There was a report of at least one large gathering Friday night off Radford University’s campus.

Originally, there was a piece of the ordinance about 50-percent of the lowest occupancy load inside of a business, but council could not come to a consensus about the size of that.

“These things are not gone, what we were able to do was accomplish what we could tonight, and even parts of that ordinance might be headed back in if we find that it’s necessary as we move through the next few weeks,” Horton said.

During the citizen comment period, opinions were divided.

“To me, one of the reasons I wear a mask is because I show love to my neighbor, it’s not a selfish thing,” said one resident.

“We already have ordinances on the books that covers that so I don’t think we need to address more of a mandate,” added another.

“Ultimately this was a part of the framework,” Horton said. “Do I think we went far enough tonight? Probably not, but I think what we were able to accomplish was a step along the way and that we will continue to move forward with additional practices.”

Some exceptions include religious activities, day care, funerals and sporting events, but physical distancing and protective gear will be required at these.

The new crowd gathering ordinance goes into effect Thursday at midnight and will last until the end of the month. The city will then work to modify or drop it depending on how cases of COVID-19 are shaping up in the area.

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