The Town of Payson on March 18 declared a state of emergency because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
So far, Mayor Tom Morrissey has said the town is suspending public attendance at board and commission meetings and allowing councilors to take part remotely in meetings.
“The CDC has recommended that people over 60 not attend gatherings larger than 10 people. We have council members in that over 60 category and the town, by the mayor’s declaration, is taking prudent measures to protect the health and well-being of our council members,” said Sheila DeSchaaf, acting town manager. “Town leadership is prepared to ramp up precautionary measures if conditions warrant additional action. We are working with our business community and other stakeholders to address their specific needs as well.”
Watch council meetings from home, either online through paysonaz.gov or on Channel 4.
The mayor’s declaration also gives the town wide authority to do things like shut down bars, restaurants and other businesses, if necessary.
Already Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego has closed all food establishments where people gather because, “our medical professionals need all the help they can get and closing bars and moving restaurants to take-out/delivery/drive-thru helps #StopTheSpread,” she tweeted.
An emergency declaration allows the mayor to:
• Impose a curfew in any or all portions of the town.
• Order the closure of any business.
• Close access to public buildings, streets or other places.
• Call on law enforcement agencies outside of Payson for assistance.
“But we are nowhere near even discussing that,” said DeSchaaf.
The declaration allows the town to work within the surrounding areas where it has mutual aid agreements.
The town’s Hazard Mitigation Plan was updated last year. It has a tally of town resources and a strategy to address an emergency.
Meanwhile, town officials say they’re monitoring the constantly shifting situation.
Every day a town team works with Gila County Emergency Management. The town is also “monitoring state and other partner activities,” said DeSchaaf.
The town has temporarily suspended water-shut offs for non-payment, “in an attempt to encourage those residents to also follow CDC guidelines (not go out in public if they are ill, and wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds).”