JONESBORO — In a video teleconference punctuated by glitchy audio and attendees learning how to mute their microphones, the Jonesboro City Council last week passed an amended ordinance immediately imposing a curfew between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. within the city limits.
City Manager Ricky Clark said the city has been having trouble with its video servers for about a week, which is why the city went to a different online platform. He added that a recording of the teleconference will be uploaded to the City Council meetings page soon.
The online videoconference on the Zoom platform was rough but got the job done. Residents’ audio was muted so that the council could be heard.
Clayton County Fire Chief Landry Merkison briefly recapped the county Emergency Management Authority’s efforts. A discussion of the two ordinances followed. The public health ordinance was amended to include a curfew, which the council discussed at length.
Councilwoman Donya Sartor was opposed to the idea of an overnight curfew, noting that that’s when the least number of people are on the streets. She thought it would be better to have a daytime curfew.
Mayor Joy Day said a curfew would send a message to residents to take the COVID-19 precautions seriously and that it might deter people who are not from Jonesboro from coming in.
It also contained language strongly encouraging houses of worship to avoid holding services for 10 people or more. Councilwoman Tracy Messick pointed out that it was not possible for the city to tell houses of worship what to do under the First Amendment but that it could offer a recommendation. Messick added that most of the city’s largest congregations already had taken their worship services online.
Mayor Day said her first priority was to protect the city of Jonesboro, whether people congregated in bars on Tara Boulevard or in churches. She expressed concern about people flocking to church, then going to the grocery and spreading the virus.
The measure passed with Sartor opposing.
A second ordinance guaranteeing special COVID-19 sick leave of up to 80 hours for full-time city staff and 20 hours for part-timers passed unanimously.