Anyone violating a directed health measure could be fined under a revised ordinance approved on first reading by the Blair City Council during its May 12 meeting via videoconference.
A violation of a directed health measure (DHM) issued by the Department of Health and Humans Services or the Three Rivers Public Health Department would be a Class V misdemeanor and would result in the maximum of a $100 fine. The violation was previously a Class 3 misdemeanor.
The ordinance is similar to an ordinance adopted by the City of Grand Island, City Attorney Desirae Solomon said.
“We've been paying attention to a lot of the news from around the country when other folks have gotten in violation, and we felt that it was important that this was not an arrestable/jailable offense,” said council member Brad Andersen, who serves on the council's judiciary committee. “We settled on the fine being the maximum of this that way we can do something quickly. The board of health can meet and it doesn't have to be ratified by the council. It only has a limited effect on someone's civil liberties.”
Changes to city municipal code would also allow the city's Board of Health to issue shelter or quarantine orders to the public.
“There were some concerns because if the board of health issued a DHM, it would not come back before the city council. Those changes were made,” Solomon said.
The council approved the changes 6-1. Council member Chris Jensen was the lone no vote. Council member Kevin Willis was absent.