Radford City Council extends limit on gatherings until mid-September

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The Radford City Council has unanimously voted to extend a restriction on gatherings in groups of 50 or more until Sept. 18.

The restriction was originally put into place on Aug. 6 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was set to expire on Aug. 31. With the recent increase of the number of COVID-19 positive tests in the city, council members opted to extend the ordinance limiting the size of gatherings.

On Thursday, Aug. 20, Radford had 75 positive test results among its residents. On Friday, Aug. 21 the city had 91 positive tests and then 110 on Saturday, 133 on Sunday, 166 on Monday and 252 on Thursday, Aug. 27, according to Virginia Department of Health data.

Radford University likewise has placed a restriction on on-campus gatherings of more than 10 students. According to the Radford University COVID-19 dashboard, the university had administered 1,705 campus-based tests as of Aug.23 with a 5.75 percent positive test rate or approximately 98 positive cases.

The original city council ordinance proposal to extend the city’s restrictions on gatherings through Sept. 30 failed on a three-to-two vote because it was an emergency ordinance and therefore required a four-to-one vote to pass. Councilman Forrest Hite, who joined Councilman Onassis Burress in voting against the extension, said he has spoken to citizens who fear the ordinance might remain in place indefinitely.

“I don’t want this to feel indefinite,” Hite said. “I want it to feel intentional.”

Mayor David Horton was unaware of the need for four affirmative votes prior to the passage failure but adjusted the date to Sept.18 once he was notified by the city attorney of the four-vote requirement

“Splitting hairs on this is really not the best way to go about it,” Horton said, “but if that’s the only way to get the four votes we need for it to go into effect, that’s what we’ll do.”

The council’s next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 14 at 7 p.m.