Mayor Jamie Bova shared the following update to her email subscribers on Sunday;
The COVID-19 response is continually evolving. Please do your part to help by staying home.
Public health and safety is this Council’s top priority. In the immediate future, this means doing everything possible to “flatten the curve” and limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community. This will have short term economic consequences; unfortunate but necessary sacrifices to avoid catastrophic outcomes. The City Council, City Manager, and Chamber of Commerce are working with State government to identify resources to help those individuals and businesses affected get the public health and economic support they need to get through this emergency.
The powers and responsibilities of the Mayor, City Council, and City Administration are defined in the City Charter. Some steps the Council can take to flatten the curve are in our role as the Board of License Commissioners. Businesses that operate within the city are required to obtain a license to operate and have the responsibility to run safe and orderly establishments. A letter promulgated by the City Manager on Friday communicates the City’s intention to consider the coronavirus guidelines from public health experts as part of the criteria for determining the safe operation of a business. In short, businesses that put the health of the community at risk by failing to follow expert guidance are subject to penalty, including losing their license to operate.
The Governor and Department of Health are holding a regular phone call with municipal officials across the state to share the most up to date information and guidance on the state-level strategy for managing the public health, public welfare, and economic issues all of us in the state are facing. The City is continually evaluating all options available to us to do what’s best for Newport’s public health and to support the state-level strategy to flatten the curve. The City Administration will include this latest information in its regular updates to the public.
Many in the local business community have been working with the City to do their part to flatten the curve. As the coronavirus spreads through the state, I anticipate the City and State will need to take even more restrictive measures to limit the crisis. The city government will work to provide the support needed to keep the public safe and help our economy through the emergency. I encourage everyone to reach out to local businesses to see how we can best support them in these challenging times.
Early last week, internal Council communications regarding the status of the parade were released prior to any formal decision by the Council. This caused confusion within the community as the situation and guidance were continuing to evolve. I take my share of responsibility for the unclear communication and the confusion caused by it. I will be working with the Council and City Administration to ensure our internal communication guidelines for this situation are clear, including developing explicit emergency communications procedures. We have always and will continue to refer everyone to the dedicated public health resources at the RI Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control for specific health guidance.
We need to work together as a community to get through this emergency. We are not public health experts – the public health medical professionals determine the path forward, and the city government will do what is in our power to follow their guidance and take the right steps. This is a critical time to act, and we should all expect new guidance to come out on a daily basis, from various levels of government. The Council and City Administration will take all measures necessary within our powers to limit the crisis within Newport, and we need everyone to stay informed and pitch in to flatten the curve and fight the spread of this pandemic.
Newport Mayor and City Council Chair