UPDATE (SEPT 11, 2020 6:07 p.m.):
In a written statement, West Virginia University had the following to say regarding the city’s order:
“West Virginia University appreciates the leadership and measures taken by the city of Morgantown to reduce the spread of COVID-19 among the community. This particular ordinance prohibiting parties and gatherings in designated areas is another necessary step needed to lower the positivity rate in our county. WVU fully supports this decision and looks forward to the continued partnership to make our home a safer and healthier place.”
ORIGINAL (SEPT 10, 2020 7:46 p.m.):
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Interim City Manager of Morgantown, Emily Muzzarelli, signed a written order to prohibit parties and gatherings in certain residential areas of the city on Thursday.
Authorization for the order comes from the city council’s approval of Emergency Ordinance 2020-5 on September 1, which authorized the City Manager to further limit the numbers allowed to gather both socially, in private residences, and eating and drinking establishments if needed.
According to the release, since the adoption of Emergency Ordinance 2020-5, the rate of COVID-19 infection in Monongalia Co. has increased from 17.86 per 100,000 people to 37.33 per 100,000 people, and Monongalia Co. is now designated “red” on Governor Justice’s County Alert System. The increase in infections has coincided with numerous reports of large student gatherings failing to observe mask requirements and social distancing protocols, according to officials.
Maps of the areas where gatherings are restricted are available below and on the City of Morgantown’s website.
The release stated that to assist in the prevention of these high-risk house party events, which would likely further the spread of COVID-19 infections, the following public health measures are being adopted:
- Parties and social gatherings are prohibited at residential units, including their yards or parking lots, in the areas shown on the attached map, which is incorporated into this order by reference. This restriction does not limit residents and their family members from using their residential property, nor does it limit deliveries, maintenance, repairs, or other regular business at these properties. All other non-residents are prohibited from gathering at these residential units.
- Any Assembly Occupancy Permit for a residential property within the areas defined in Paragraph 1, is suspended during the effective period of this Order.
- Any violation of this Article shall be deemed a public nuisance subject to summary abatement by the Chief of Police, or other law enforcement officer, including the Fire Marshal and deputy fire marshals. In addition, any violation shall be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of no less than $25.00 and no more than $500.00. Each day a violation continues shall constitute a separate violation.
The written order will go into effect beginning at midnight on September 11.