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West Point approves curfew, closes dining-in at restaurants

In an emergency meeting on Wednesday, the West Point City Council added four amendments to the emergency ordinance finalized on Saturday. The amendments are effective starting Thursday at 5  p.m. EST.

The biggest change is the city will have a curfew running from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. EST. The curfew does not pertain to “exempt individuals,” who engage in essential services. 

These services include fire, law enforcement, medical and hospital services, military services, utility repairs, persons seeking medical service, those traveling to their jobs as long as they have identification, delivery of food, medicine, medical supplies or fuel, retrieval or transport of bodies under the direction of funeral services, news media, employees designated by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency or critical infrastructure businesses and employees designated by the governor, Homeland Security and Infrastructure Security Agency.

“We need social distancing. People need to stay apart. We don’t need to be hanging out right now and really, it’s just to lighten the load on our police force,” West Point Mayor Steve Tramell said. “This is going to be a good thing for the police officers as they’re not going to be out there arresting people.”

If you are approached by an officer during the curfew, you will need to present a valid reason to be out and a valid identification, such as a work badge or paperwork. If you do not present a valid form of identification or reason, you may be subject to a citation.

“We ask that the citizens in the community be understanding in the event that they are approached by an officer during curfew hours. We are tasked with enforcing the ordinance and the Police Department staff only has the best interest of the city and its residents in mind when enforcing this ordinance. I would like to thank you all in advance for your understanding and patience as we all work through this difficult time together. As always, stay safe and take care of each other,” West Point Police Captain Kevin Carter said in the press release.

Alongside the curfew, restaurants are to close their dining rooms and become dine out or pickup orders only. 

Gyms, fitness centers, indoor amusement facilities, bowling allies, pool halls, theaters, massage parlors, nail salons, hair salons, barbershops and facilities similar to these are all closed until the end of the emergency. 

Public and private gatherings of 10 or more people are now prohibited. The only time this does not come into effect is when the group is carrying out essential business, which is certified by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency. 

Grocery Stores, pharmacies, convenience stores and other businesses will remain open, but they must have a sign at entrances informing clientele to maintain six feet of distance between themselves and others when possible. 

The final change dealt with the city manager. If for some reason the city manager (Ed Moon) was unable to perform his duties, he would appoint an interim city manager. If that interim is unable to perform their duties, Mayor Steve Tramell will take over the duties. 

Tramell also said in the meeting that power companies will not be turning off utilities while the emergency ordinance is in effect.