An emergency order from Moscow Mayor Bill Lambert shuttering gyms, tattoo parlors, barber shops and salons and banning gatherings of more than 10 people has been extended until at least May 5 in a bid to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

The Moscow City Council voted unanimously to extend the order, which was initially slated to last seven days, in an emergency meeting Thursday. Lambert issued the initial order Tuesday.

Childcare facilities and services are not affected by this order.

“For my part, recognizing that this is having major detrimental effects on small businesses, their owners and their employees, I think our greater responsibility is to the health and safety of the citizens of town,” Councilor Art Bettge said.

Councilor Gina Taruscio said she agrees with the order and extension, but was quick to point out that the city has not abandoned its small businesses and continues to investigate ways to support them through the closures. She said some on the council are themselves business owners and noted many, including the local restaurant community, have been supportive of such moves.

“It is still, and remains, the right thing to do to keep us all healthy because if we don’t have that, we don’t have anything else either,” Taruscio said. “So I support the extension, but know that we are all aware and are working every minute of the day trying to figure out how to minimize the effects to individuals and businesses at the same time.”

Tuesday’s order followed an order issued March 20 banning large gatherings, as well as dine-in service at restaurants and bars. That order was also extended to May 5 as was Lambert’s original emergency declaration which was issued March 16.

City Supervisor Gary Riedner said the May 5 termination date was chosen because the City Council is scheduled to meet the day before and will discuss the possibility of extending the orders and declaration further. He said councilmembers also have the power to terminate the orders early if they determine it is safe to do so.

The extension comes on the heels of a statewide self-isolation order issued by Gov. Brad Little Wednesday.

At the behest of the mayor and city council, Riedner said he is working with the city finance department to determine whether it is feasible to offer discounts to affected businesses on certain city administered utilities. Riedner said he is also working to formalize a donation system to allow people to pay utility bills for those who are struggling. He said he plans to have proposals to offer council on both items by its April 6 meeting.

Also at the request of the mayor and council, Riedner said the city will not shut off utilities for lack of payment or other reasons while the emergency orders remain in effect.

In the meantime, Lambert urged city residents to remain calm and remember that these orders are only temporary. He said he has been encouraged by acts of generosity he has observed as the public tackles this pandemic and hopes to see that spirit carried through the current turmoil.

“We’ve got citizens that are helping other citizens … in this time of need, this community is absolutely great at helping each other out and working together to make things happen,” Lambert said. “As the mayor, it’s really warm-hearting for me to see that, I encourage people to (keep) doing that.”

Scott Jackson can be reached at (208) 883-4636, or by email to sjackson@dnews.com.

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