Decatur County declares travel warning; locks down community

Decatur County is further locking down the community in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the weekend, county health officials said that Decatur County had the highest per capita rate of COVID-19 infections in the state. Decatur County has 47 confirmed cases as of yesterday morning’s tally from the state health department.

Decatur County Commissioners on Tuesday declared a travel warning, effective Thursday morning at 8 a.m. The warning bans any travel in the county except for a few categories outlined in the ordinance.

Emergency management workers, health care service providers, essential Greensburg and Decatur County governmental offices, public utilities workers, veterinarians, funeral homes and media are allowed to travel, but only for work and when the work cannot be done remotely.

Another larger category of workers can travel to work but only between 5 a.m. in the morning and 10 p.m. at night. That group includes grocery store workers, community food assistance, agriculture, laundromats, banks, home healthcare workers, critical trades and others.

The county health department warns that those who are required to work between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. must be essential workers and should get a letter from their employer declaring them so. Also, workers who must travel to work outside the community should get a letter.

The emergency order also closes all restaurants and puts in place rules for businesses on social distancing.

Failure to comply with the emergency order can be treated as a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.

The order is in effect until April 9th and can be re-evaluated by county commissioners then.

The ordinance:

New Travel Warning issued by Decatur County Commissioners on March 31, 2020, effective Thursday, April 2 at 8 a.m.

Ordinance No. 2020-____

WHEREAS, Decatur County believes its residents are immediately threatened by the Coronavirus/COVID-19 and believe it is imperative to take action at this time in an effort to protect citizens and contain the spread of the virus to the greatest extent possible, and

WHEREAS, Covid19 is a respiratory disease that can result in serious illness and death and is easily transmitted from person to person, and:

WHEREAS, on January 31, 2020 the United States Department of Health and Human Services Secretary declared a public emergency for the COVID-19, and:

WHEREAS, on March 6, 2020 Governor Eric J. Holcomb issued his Declaration of Public Health Emergency for the State of Indiana for COVID-19, and:

WHEREAS, The Board of Commissioners of Decatur County, pursuant to IC 36-8-2-4 and 5, is authorized to regulate conduct that might endanger the public health, safety or welfare and to impose restrictions to prevent the transmission of diseases, and:

WHEREAS, The Board of Commissioners of Decatur County, pursuant to IC 10-14-3-29 and 29.5, is authorized to issue local travel advisories as part of its emergency powers, and must designate the travel advisory as falling into Advisory, Watch, or Warning categories, and:

WHEREAS, as of March 31, 2020 Decatur County has the highest per capita rate of confirmed COVID-19 infection in the State of Indiana, and:

WHEREAS, Governor Holcombs Executive Order 20-08 grants the Decatur County Board of Commissioners the power to impose further restrictions necessary to address the needs in Decatur County, and:

WHEREAS, due to the severity of COVID-19 and the need to take urgent action, the following is effective Thursday April 2, 2020 at 8:00 am:

NOW, THEREFORE, the Board of Commissioners of Decatur County, Indiana, do hereby declare:

1.) That a local disaster emergency continues to exist in Decatur County due to COVID-19.

2.) That we invoke all appropriate laws, statutes, ordinances and resolutions necessary to exercise emergency authority for the protection of the lives and property of the people of Decatur County, with special reference to Indiana Code 10-14-3.

3.) This ordinance shall remain in effect for seven days after adoption, until April 9, 2020 at 8:00 am, and may be renewed by the Board of Commissioners.

4.) That a local travel WARNING advisory is hereby issued under IC 10-14-3-29.5. For purposes of this advisory the term travel is not restricted to travel by automobile and extends to travel by any means.

This means:
a. Individuals must refrain from all travel unless it is for purposes specifically stated in this ordinance.
b. Individuals must comply with all emergency measures currently in effect under Governor Holcombs executive orders and Decatur Countys emergency ordinances.
c. Individuals must cooperate with public officials in the execution of emergency operations including, but not limited to:

i. State and Local Health Departments,
ii. State and Local Emergency Management Agencies,
iii. Law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical service first responders,
iv. Health care providers in matters related to medical advice and treatment regarding directions related to Covid-19;

5.) Travel is RESTRICTED under IC 10-14-3-29.5(a)(3)(A) except by the following when traveling to and from, and only when the work cannot be done remotely:

a. Emergency Management Workers, as defined by Indiana law;
b. All health care service providers, including doctor offices, hospitals, pharmacies, and therapy establishments, and those seeking emergency medical care;
c. Essential City of Greensburg and Decatur County governmental service offices;
d. Veterinarian clinics (for emergencies only);
e. Funeral homes;
f. Media;
g. Employees who work in public utilities infrastructure.

6.) Travel is further RESTRICTED under IC 10-14-3-29.5(a)(3)(A) except by the following when traveling to and from, only when the work cannot be done remotely, and only between the hours of 5:00 am and 10:00 pm:

a. Grocery Stores or other retailers and manufacturers/suppliers/processors of food (not to include restaurants or liquor stores);
b. Organizations providing essential services such as community food assistance.
c. Social Service agencies, e.g. Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc.;
d. Utility and Trash Services;
e. Postal/Delivery Services;
f. Public Transportation providers for medical purposes only;
g. Agricultural Operations;
h. Legal Services;
i. Laundromats;
j. Auto Repair Businesses for emergencies only;
k. Those required by law enforcement or court order;
l. Banks and other financial institutions (only drive-thru service for customers);
m. Home Based Healthcare Services;
n. Critical trades where the work is necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, government agencies, and businesses engaged in essential activities and business operations:
i. Plumbers;
ii. Electricians;
iii. Operating Engineers;
iv. Janitorial Staff;

7.) When travelling for authorized purposes individuals must maintain social distancing, including proper hygiene and a minimum distance of six feet from individuals.

8.) Businesses that must remain open to the public shall comply with Governor Holcombs Executive Order 20-08 17 by designating by signage or tape and enforcing six foot distances at places where lines of customers occur; making hand sanitizer readily available to employees and customer; operating separate hours for vulnerable populations; and displaying signage directing customers to do business by telephone or online means as the preferred mode of business.

9.) In addition, all businesses open to the public must limit the number of customers in the business to a number that enforces social distancing and shall designate by signage or tape a six foot space where customers must wait outside before being permitted entry.

10.) Pursuant to guidance from the Indiana and Decatur County Departments of Health, exercise outside such as walking, biking, or jogging is NOT considered prohibited travel, on the condition that it is performed alone or with another member of your household. All existing limitations such as curfews and park hours remain in effect. All playgrounds are prohibited.

11.) Pursuant to Indiana Code 10-14-3-34, knowing, intentional, or reckless violation of this Emergency Order is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by 0-180 days in the Decatur County Jail, and a fine of up to $1,000.00.

The Board of Commissioners acknowledge the hardship and sacrifice that is being imposed on the businesses and citizens of Decatur County by these closures. These restrictions will be revisited as the COVID-19 circumstances change, and are subject to revision as deemed appropriate for the health and well-being of Decatur County Citizens.

This is an ongoing and evolving public health crisis. In addition to the criminal and civil sanctions in Paragraphs 11, refusal to comply may result in suspension of permits as well as fines by order of the Decatur County Health Department and the Health Officer under IC 16-20-1-19 and IC16-20-1-21.

Read and adopted this 31st day of March, 2020.

Decatur County Board of Commissioners

Rick J. Nobbe

Jerome Buening

Mark Koors