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Fort Smith/Fayetteville News | 5newsonline KFSM 5NEWS | Get the local news and weather where you live from 5NEWS. Covering Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Bentonville, and all of Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley.

Emergency powers given to Fayetteville mayor

The ordinance gives Mayor Jordan temporary power to regulate the gathering of 50 or more people in public or private places.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan has been given temporary powers to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the city. 

The Fayetteville City Council passed an ordinance Monday (Mar. 16) in a special meeting at City Hall. 

The ordinance gives Mayor Jordan temporary power to regulate the gathering of 50 or more people in public or private places.  

A resolution appropriating $3 million in emergency funds for additional funding to address the coronavirus pandemic in Fayetteville also passed. 

Council Chambers were modified to create at least six feet between Council members, in accordance with CDC guidelines for social distancing.

The mayor says limiting gathering sizes in places like restaurants is not off the table.

Local business owners weighed in on the subject.

"It was a 50% drop for a normal Friday and Saturday," said Robert Lee of Renzo's Pasta and Italian Steakhouse.

That's the hit Renzo's took after the mayor was granted the power to limit gatherings along with the CDC guidelines. 

The new power comes with a heavy task for the mayor and potentially a hard hit to local businesses.

It creates a weight because whatever decision you make you are going to impact somebody and I really don't want to hurt anybody, but the time has come that we've got to take action I believe and take action quickly," Mayor Jordan said.

The uncertainty is troubling for local business owners like Benjamin Mills at Fossil Cove Brewing Company. The majority of his revenue comes from in house visitors and sales to local restaurants.

"We are will to do whatever we can to keep our doors open to limit the spread, but being told flat out 'no you can't have people come in' is damaging," Mills said.

Mills and Lee say they both understand and support the mayor has he makes his decision, but they hope he keeps the small local shops in mind.

"What I hope for is that we as citizens are allowed to make our own decisions and I think that we all have each other's safety in mind," Mills said.

As they wait for an announcement, Mills and Lee say they will continue to take all precautions they can to continue serving the community.

"There's not much you can do, you just have to open your doors and you know, provide the safest restaurant you've got," Lee said.

Credit: KFSM

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has declared a public health emergency and ordered mandatory closure of all public schools across the state effective Tuesday, March 17. 

Additionally, Washington County Judge Joseph Woods issued a declaration of emergency for Washington County. 

The City of Fayetteville continues to take steps to prepare for COVID-19 and prevent the spread of illness. Please check the City’s COVID-19 webpage for updates.

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