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Emergency declaration forces some Springfield businesses to close through April 7

The Springfield City Council on Thursday declared a state of emergency because of the coronavirus, forcing some businesses to close through April 7.

In a specially called meeting held over the telephone, the council unanimously approved an ordinance that closes gyms, barbers, hair stylists, beauty salons, nail salons and “any facility used for entertainment, social or grooming purposes.”

Council members noted that the move might only push customers to similar businesses outside the city limits, but in the end agreed to unanimously send a strong message.

“We’ve got to take action because so many people are not taking it seriously,” said Mayor Barty Alderman.

Grocery stores, pharmacies and other businesses that remain open must post signs telling customers to stay six feet apart and must limit the number of people allowed inside to 10 if six feet of separation can’t be maintained.

All public and private gatherings of more than 10 people occurring outside a household are prohibited.

No gatherings of 10 or more people will be allowed on property owned or controlled by the city, including parks, recreational areas, playgrounds and theaters. Alderman noted that the city’s Mars Theatre already has been closed for a week.