1000 x 90

Boone Town Council Changes Course and Votes Against Amendment Banning Visitors from Indoor Establishments

By Nathan Ham

Tuesday’s special meeting of the Boone Town Council resulted in the decision to strike the emergency provision that would have prevented visitors and seasonal homeowners from entering indoor establishments in Boone without first quarantining for 14 days.

The state of emergency amendments initially passed by a 3-1 vote last Thursday night after nearly five hours of discussion and public comment.

On Friday, attorney Nathan Miller filed a restraining order on behalf of Anne-Marie Yates, Mountain Resort Management LLC, Hospitality Group of Hickory, and Smokey Mountain Hospitality LLC. Superior Court Judge Gregory Horne issued a temporary restraining order on Friday against the town’s emergency declaration. This led to an emergency town council meeting happening on Saturday morning and a special meeting was called on Tuesday to tackle the topic once again. This time around, the vote was 4-1 in favor of removing the quarantine requirement from the state of emergency declaration. Councilmembers Loretta Clawson, Dustin Hicks, Nancy LaPlaca, and Connie Ulmer voted in favor of removing the quarantine requirement while Sam Fergiuele, who originally proposed adding in numerous amendments to the emergency declaration, voted against removing the quarantine requirement.

The town council also voted down another motion by Fergiuele that would have required anyone in the town of Boone to wear a mask entering an indoor facility. Hicks, LaPlaca and Ulmer voted against it while Clawson and Fergiuele voted in favor of required face coverings indoors.

The following state of emergency declaration amendments remained the same:

All Town meetings shall be held remotely; except that Board of Adjustment meetings are postponed for 60 days, prior to the expiration of which Town Council will consider whether and how such meetings may resume;

Social distancing (6 feet per current guidance) must be maintained in all establishments open to the public, in all places of employment, and in public parks, sidewalks, streets, and on Town property, except as between persons who are members of the same household;

Social distancing shall not be required for persons engaged in personal care, grooming, and tattoo services as defined in Executive Order 141 issued by the Governor, provided that such persons shall wear masks when they cannot maintain social distancing and shall post in a conspicuous space in the business that they cannot guarantee that masks will protect against the transmission of COVID-19 virus;

In Retail Businesses with shopping aisles, aisles shall be one-way if shoppers otherwise cannot maintain 6 feet of social distancing when walking the aisles in opposite directions;

To the extent reasonably available, hand sanitizer or other disinfectant shall be offered to customers of all establishments open to the public as customers enter and leave the premises;

While indoors in areas open to the public or occupied by other employees, employees of establishments open to the public must wear masks or other face coverings that comply with current public health guidance (i.e., cover nose and mouth and go under chin); except that the face-covering requirement shall not apply to employees that cannot wear masks due to a medical or behavioral condition, or due to a safety concern;

Employees of establishments open to the public must disinfect their hands between each interaction with a member of the public that involves exchange of a physical item that could enable surface-to-hand transmission of the coronavirus (e.g., check-out cashier handling customers’ goods, money or credit cards);

Restaurants may use only disposable menus provided for one-time use or menus that are disinfected between each use;

Employees of establishments open to the public must be subject to a daily screening process before the employee begins work to check for COVID19 symptoms, by means of a standard interview questionnaire of symptoms. Such a screen may, but is not required to be, that offered by the NC Department of Health and Human Services. Employees should not be permitted to work if they display symptoms, and should not be allowed to return to work if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are presumed positive by a medical professional due to symptoms until they meet the CDC criteria for release from isolation: (I) no fever for at least 72 hours since recovery (without the use of fever-reducing medicine); and (ii) other symptoms have improved (e.g., coughing, shortness of breath); and (iii) at least ten (10) days have passed since first symptoms;

PENALTY: In enforcing this Declaration, law enforcement officers are specifically authorized to issue warning citations. However, repeat violations or an egregious first violation manifesting willful flouting or circumvention of this Declaration shall constitute a class 2 misdemeanor as provided at G.S. §166A-19.31(h).