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Neosho City Council votes down public gathering restriction

After getting massive amounts of backlash from residents, the Neosho City Council has voted against an ordinance that would have prohibited gatherings of 16 or more people unless the gathering first gets a letter of approval from the Newton County Health Department.

They also repealed the existing ordinance and rejected the proposed ordinance which effectively means there is no COVID-19 ordinance in place for Neosho. Mayor Carmin Allen says they will leave it up to Governor Mike Parson to make their decisions. “We can go back to normal life in Neosho,” he added.

The failed ordinance also would have limited businesses and organizations in Neosho to 50% of their fire or building code, except for educational institutions and daycare facilities. The city previously apologized for a previous ordinance in which they “did not desire to discriminate against any entity, church organization, or group. This was simply a misunderstanding between City Council and Staff.”

Click here to see the failed proposed bill in full

Numerous citizens showed up to express their displeasure to the council Thursday night. Many citing the lack of authority the council actually has for mandating the ordinance. Others upset at the council’s attempt to tread on their freedoms and rights as free Americans.

Some stated that this ordinance would have hurt Neosho’s business even more, especially because many have posted on Facebook that they would shop in Neosho instead of Joplin after Joplin passed a face mask mandate Wednesday night.

Many called the ordinance unnecessary because the mortality rate of COVID-19 is not damning enough evidence that the city needs to be restricted in this way. A few citizens even requested the resignation of all city council members. The gallery even began reciting the Lord’s Prayer at one point.

The Newton County Health Department confirming over 600 cases of COVID-19 in the county since the pandemic started with three deaths. The ordinance was brought up in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

The previous ordinance drew criticism because it would have prohibited public gatherings of 16 or people except for educational institutions, daycare facilities, and business operations within city limits, including churches. That ordinance added that you could be charged with a misdemeanor, fined, and even incarcerated.

Mayor Carmin Allen said Tuesday that changes made to that document were not accurate as to the ones that the council wanted to discuss.

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