RIVERDALE — The city of Riverdale has declared an emergency due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus, along with a "shelter in place" order from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. until further notice.
"Initially, we were hoping (staying at home and maintaining social distance) would be voluntary," Mayor Evelyn Wynn-Dixon said. However, "with the severe escalation of the illness, it is necessary."
Dixon said Riverdale came to the decision after a conference call with county officials. "This is what we came up with. We need to implement shelter in place to ensure our citizens are safe and try to curtail this disease."
The ordinance, which the City Council passed unanimously Monday, March 30 during a teleconference, is similar to those passed by Jonesboro and Forest Park, which also imposed shelter-in-place orders after some citizens did not comply with health recommendations against gathering in large groups, entering closed parks or staying 6 feet away from other people.
Riverdale's ordinance adds specific directions for its homeless population. Mayor Evelyn Wynn-Dixon herself has experienced homelessness. The ordinance reads, "Individuals experiencing homelessness are exempt from this Section (the 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. shelter-in-place order), but are strongly urged to obtain shelter, and other entities are strongly urged to make such shelter available as soon as possible and to the maximum extent practicable (and to utilize Social Distancing Requirements in their operation)."
In addition, the ordinance defines "residences" as "hotels, motels, shared rental units and similar facilities."
Some essential businesses include groceries, medical care facilities, news media, gas stations, plumbers, hardware stores, laundromats and motels.
See the ordinance for the full list of what the ordinance declares "essential."
Councilman Kenny Ruffin said, "I'm going to take it upon myself to start putting information out on Facebook and Nextdoor."