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City of Akron breaks down new ordinance limiting private gatherings

Officials are working to clarify confusion on gatherings & express concern over climbing COVID rates.

AKRON, Ohio — The City of Akron is enforcing a 30-day ordinance to limit small private gatherings. It's another effort to reduce the climbing number of coronavirus cases.

In order to reduce the spiking COVID-19 cases, Akron is warning people not to allow more than six non-household members at private gatherings. Summit County Public Health Commissioner Donna Skoda says there is a method behind the numbers.

"Most families are between four to five to six people," she said. "You could be able to accommodate some social distancing and spacing and wearing your masks in there."

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan says he’s focused on small gatherings because that’s where doctors tell him the spread of coronavirus is happening.

"It would be kind of foolish for me to come back in and say [nothing] after the governor says, 'You can have weddings and funerals, and be careful afterwards,'" he explained. "[Our COVID cases] are some of those smaller social gatherings that are happening at people’s houses where people let their guard down a little bit."

Skoda says police won’t be patrolling for large parties, but you could be fined $250.

"If somebody sees it and they’re upset by it, they could call the non-emergency line at Akron police and report it," she said. "Police officers available could respond and tell the individuals that you can’t have that many people."

Keep in mind, the ordinance is not meant to arrest people; it only has one goal.

"The end result is to stop that spread and not have people overwhelm the hospitals so that we don’t have enough medical care to give to the people who really need it," Horrigan said.

It will take pretty much everyone to make a real difference in the upward coronavirus trend.

"If you can, give us these 30 days and kind of hang on to be able to do that," Horrigan asked. "We think it can make a significant difference, and quite frankly, we will look at it after 30 days and say 'Okay, health professionals, this is where we are going,' and then make the decision from there."

The mayor says if the numbers continue to climb after Thanksgiving, he would consider stricter ordinances so we don’t see another spike after the winter holidays.