By Dylan Adams
Kutztown Borough has passed a temporary emergency ordinance in hopes of cracking down on social gatherings and mask compliance to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
As a part of an emergency town-hall meeting on Friday, Sept. 11, borough council members passed a temporary emergency ordinance by a four to two vote, enacting the policies immediately thereafter.
The following points are the general regulations set forth by the ordinance:
- Residential gatherings of unrelated persons are limited to 10 people or fewer.
- Masks are required when within six feet distance of someone who is not a member of your household.
- Individuals in violation of the Ordinance can be subjected to fines between $100 and $600.
The primary focus of this ordinance is to dissuade and crack down on large social gatherings that would increase the potential infection rate of coronavirus within both the township and KU populaces. It also pushes the necessity of wearing masks in public areas to lower the risk associated with passing on COVID-19 to bystanders.
The proposed ordinance was met with some backlash. Many residents expressed concerns that this ordinance was irrational and bypassed civil liberties. Some township residents, such as Jennifer Kaufinger, created petitions in opposition against the ordinance. Her petition “Stop the Kutztown Borough Council’s Madness” received around 170 signatures.
When the petition was brought up during the township meeting, a member of the township council addressed that around half the signatures lacked full names and residency addresses, leading the council to decide that the petition could not be fully taken into account.
Kaufinger claimed that despite some of the names on the petition being illegitimate, the core foundation of the petition showed the township’s disapproval for the ordinance.
Residents also voiced their concerns about the effectiveness of the ordinance and the practicality of enforcing it.
The borough council explained that the Kutztown Borough Police Department would enforce these regulations but had no jurisdiction in the Maxatawny area other than Kutztown. Members of the community expressed concern for enforcing the ordinance based on the small staff size of the Borough’s active police force.
Though there was some backlash against the proposed ordinance, it was met with a large amount of support from KU staff, students and township residents. These supporters viewed the proposed plan as a viable solution to combat any large social gatherings within Kutztown.
The entire ordinance can be viewed on the Kutztown Borough’s website at www.kutztownboro.org.