LAWTON – Late Tuesday afternoon Mayor Stan Booker issued an amendment to the State of Civil Emergency proclamation issued Monday, March 16. The stricter amendments went into effect at 2 a.m. Wednesday.
Lawton is the latest Oklahoma community to place tighter restrictions on businesses in an effort to fight the global COVID-19 virus.
The forced closure of specific businesses to foot traffic came at the same time Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt held a press conference Tuesday to urge Oklahomans to avoid gatherings of 10 people or more.
“We’re are listening to the advice of the CDC,” Stitt said. “Things are changing quickly.”
The governor said the virus would cause an upheaval for many Oklahomans. He also urged residents to order take-out food from their favorite local restaurant to help support the struggling industry.
Stitt said he issued two executive orders which would ‘reduce barriers’ to fight the virus. One of those orders would allow out-of-state physicians to be temporarily licensed in Oklahoma and limits access to nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
On Monday, Lawton Mayor Stan Booker declared a 30-day State of Emergency. Tuesday, Booker amended his declaration, echoing language used by Stitt.
The amendment prohibits in-person gatherings of more than 10 people and closed the city jail to all visitors.
Those gatherings include social, spiritual and other purposes. The amendment also forces the closure of bars, taverns, clubs, restaurants and coffee shops – with the exception of take-out or delivery services. All gyms, workout facilities, athletic venues and theaters have also been closed.
“It is not my desire to cause any financial pain, but my first responsibility is to the public’s safety, and I believe these measures to be necessary to stop the spread of this virus,” Booker said.
The city also revoked all special event permits, required social distancing on the city’s mass transit systems, and suspended any water cutoff for the duration of the emergency.
“Taking these proactive measures will amount to less stress on our medical system, which will allow for greater health and safety of our entire community,” Booker said in a media statement.
"We intend to work hand-in-hand with healthcare professionals and the County and State Health Departments as we navigate this situation.”
In addition to the limits on public activity, events and non-essential meetings taking place on City of Lawton property will be postponed or canceled, Booker said. He said recreational centers run by the city would be closed
along with the Lawton Public Library.
All meetings of the Lawton City Council, Lawton Water Authority and Lawton Transit Trust will still take place.