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Meridian orders “social distance only”; McCall says “please don’t visit”

Mayor Robert Simison and his socially-distanced staff at their March 20 press conference.

Meridian Mayor Robert Simison and his socially-distanced staff at their March 20 press conference. Photo by Catie Clark.

Meridian has issued a mandatory order for all restaurants, bars, lounges, entertainment venues, food courts and gyms to enact “social distancing,” while McCall is asking visitors to stay away until the COVID-19 outbreak is over.

On March 20, Meridian Mayor Robert Simison announced that the listed types of businesses must ensure that groups of 10 patrons or less maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 virus through April 4. Grocery stores and food banks are exempt from the order.

The order is similar though not as strict as the March 19 order made by Boise Mayor Lauren McLean to close dining-in at all Boise bars and restaurants, while still allowing for takeout and delivery.

“If you cannot comply with social distancing, you should close,” Simison said in a press conference where he and his staff maintained measured social distance from one another. “These are our first measured steps to slow the spread.”

Mayor Simison said he will re-evaluate the scope and duration of the order on an ongoing basis, based on recommendations from Central District Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Meridian Police Chief Jeff Lavey stated that violating this order was a misdemeanor and that the city would prosecute violators to the fullest extent possible.

Also on March 20, the resort City of McCall issued a travel advisory asking that anyone thinking of visiting should stay home instead. The advisory was made in conjunction with the city’s partners at the St. Luke’s McCall Hospital, Cascade Medical Center, McCall Police Department, McCall Fire Department, Donnelly Rural Fire Protection District and the Valley County Emergency Manager.

With a population of around 3,000, McCall’s health care facilities are limited. The only hospital in town is St. Luke’s McCall, which has 15 beds, according to the American Hospital Directory.

“It is very likely that anyone who gets sick in our area may need to be transported to another area for treatment,” McCall’s travel advisory states. “This puts massive strain on our entire health care system.”

“We simply don’t have enough stores, health care providers, medical tools or first responders to take care of an increase in population right now,” McCall Mayor Bob Giles said. “We need to protect people’s public health and safety as a top priority in our area and for the future.”

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