Community leaders issue shelter in place order
The city of Breckenridge and Stephens County issued orders for all residents to shelter in place. The order is to combat the COVID-19 virus and became active at midnight on March 24.
All residents are required to shelter at their home. Homes include hotels, motels, shared homes and other living spaces. People may only leave their homes for essential activities, such as grocery shopping, pharmacy visit or medical appointments.
Exceptions for travel include picking up or delivering essential supplies such as food or medication or laundry. Exercise and pet walking is permitted as long as social distancing guidelines are followed.
Community leaders believe this shelter in place order is essential to slow the community spread of COVID-19.
The order provides strict social distancing recommendations for the community. Citizens should avoid groups of more than 10, eat from drive-thru and worship via video or teleconference.
The order furthers the county/city authority to protect the safety and welfare of the public.
The city of Breckenridge and Stephens County will also enforce penalties for violation of the shelter in order. The first occurrence will come with a warning and if not obeyed, "the plan may prescribe a punishment for the offense but may not prescribe a fine that exceeds $1,000 or confinement in jail for a term that exceeds 180 days."
"These rules are enforced and citizens may need to go back home," Breckenridge police chief Bacel Cantrell said. We want to open a strong communication with everyone and that's the reason I think this order is so important. If everyone is no onboard then we are doing things in vain. This order is not for us to write everyone tickets and throw people in jail, it gives authority to educate people and inform them of the consequences if you don't comply."
The county and city are hoping the penalty will center citizens' attention and force them to listen to the severity of the COVID-19.
The county is asking for individuals to continue practicing social distancing efforts and stay home if sick. This news comes as nine individuals were tested for the COVID-19 virus, with one negative result and eight still pending.