Amherst Board of Health Issues Emergency Order: Temporarily Reduces Capacity and Implements Early Closures
The Board of Health for the Town of Amherst has issued an emergency order that will (a) continue the Mandatory Early Closing Order and (b) continue the Sector Capacity and Limits, both of which were set to expire on February 8th. This Order was adopted by the Public Health Director on February 7, 2021.
The Order was issued after consultation with the State Department of Public Health and follows steps taken by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in response to a significant increase in COVID-19 positive cases. The Town has been in close communication with officials from the Towns of Hadley and Sunderland, which are considering similar measures.
Town Manager Paul Bockelman stated, “This is not the direction that we, as a Town, nor our businesses, want to go, but it is imperative that the Town take decisive action immediately to address this increase in cases.”
Public Health Director Emma Dragon added, “It is in the interest of the health of our entire community that we continue the restrictions that are currently in place. Never has it been more important to follow those key public health protocols of wearing a mask, washing hands, and maintaining social distance.”
Here is information on the Order:
1. The Order:
A. Continuation of the Mandatory Early Closing Order issued by the Governor as Executive Order #53, which has required certain businesses to close by 9:30 PM each night, which is due to expire on Monday, February 8, 2021 at 5:00 a.m.
B. Continuation of Sector Capacity and Limits issued by the Governor as Executive Order #59, which will established sector capacity and limits which is due to expire on February 8, 2021 at 5:00 a.m.
2. Initiation and rescinding of the Order:
This Order shall be effective beginning on February 8, 2021 at 5:00 AM and shall remain in effect until the Board of Health of the Town of Amherst gives notice that this Order is no longer necessary or the COVID-19 Massachusetts State of Emergency is suspended, whichever occurs first.
The Board’s Health Agent and other agents designated by the Board shall have the authority to enforce this Order as necessary. The designated enforcing authority may call on the support of the Amherst Police Department if necessary.
Whoever violates any provision of this Order may be penalized by a non-criminal disposition ticketing process as provided in M.G.L. c. 40 § 21D authorizing non-criminal disposition of violations of town regulations.
Nothing in this Order is intended to encourage residents to act as an enforcement authority for the Town of Amherst. Residents should focus on their personal compliance and not take it upon themselves to approach people who may appear not to be complying.
A person who violates any provision of this Order shall be subject to a penalty in the amount of fifty dollars ($50) for a first offense; one hundred dollars ($100) for a second offense; and two hundred dollars ($200) for a third or subsequent offense. Each day or part thereof shall constitute a separate offense.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, agents and town officials are encouraged to educate offenders and to exercise their judgment on a case-by-case basis, including using their discretion to issue verbal or written warnings before determining that a finable offense has occurred.