Social Gatherings Executive Order Now in Effect

With four people already submitting event planning requests within the first hour of the Vanderburgh County Health Department having the form up on their website -- it’s clear Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke’s new executive order -- requiring social gatherings of over 125 people to have a safety plan approved -- has people buzzing. While the mayor is grappling with trying not to hurt businesses financially, at the same time, having people enjoying their holidays and celebrations and also making sure the community stays safe.

Posted: Oct 19, 2020 7:33 PM

“Is this the year that you have to go to that birthday party of a really good friend?” said Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke. “Is this the time that you have to go to your class reunion? Maybe not. I would argue that this is a year unlike any other that maybe you go, ‘You know what, I love 'em, I really like them, but for the sake of not spreading the virus, I’m staying home.’”

And his new executive order, which stipulates those with events of over 125 people must submit a plan to the Vanderburgh County Health Department, is now in effect as of Monday, Oct. 19th. Of course, this was announced over a week and a half ago, after a huge spike in Covid-19 cases.

The plan must be submitted at least ten days prior to the event and must explain safety precautions the organizers will put in place. The health department can then either approve, modify or reject that plan.

The order pertains more so towards family reunions, weddings, sports competitions, festivals and parades and does not include restaurants or office spaces.

The mayor’s powers only allow the executive order to be in effect for a period of seven days at a time, but Mayor Winnecke says he believes it’s likely it will be extended multiple times.

And if it ends up being for months, events like the Resolution Run in January will have to downsize.

"It's really hard to talk about it when you know we're going from 500 to 125,” said Joe Notter, the head of Evansville Events. “Because a lot of our events are 500 people or more."

Mayor Winnecke said while he does not want to hurt business owners, he also wants to help slow the spread of Covid--19 and keep the community safe.

"When we were on shutdown, we got lots of calls and complaints from people -- ‘Hey I'm out of work, - I've been furloughed or I lost my job,’” he said. “‘We want to avoid that. But, what we're trying to do is protect public health and protect the economy and for anyone who thinks we make these decisions likely, they are mistaken."

Police and EMA will be enforcing the order, which could have people seeing up to a $2,500 fine.

Noah Stubbs, director of communications for the city of Evansville said they do not want to fine citizens and hope people submit their plans accordingly.

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