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County allows nonessential purchases at essential businesses

Modified restrictions come with extended travel advisory

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At a press conference today, local officials modified local restrictions on purchases while extending travel restrictions for another three weeks.

Howard County will be moving to a "one shopper, one cart" recommendation for purchases in the community, while extending the orange travel advisory to April 19 at 5 p.m. Officials said this new rule would hopefully cut down on the number of individuals traveling to shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic, thus limiting the spread of the deadly virus.

Simultaneously, the new restrictions alter a previous ordinance put in place by the county that banned the sale of nonessential items. Businesses that were deemed nonessential in a previous ordinance will remain closed, but shoppers in Howard County can again purchase nonessential items that are available at essential businesses.

“As we’ve been evaluating all of our policies here in our community since we implemented our first ordinance to fight this virus, we continually on a day-by-day virus evaluate them,” said Howard County Commissioner Paul Wyman. "Let me say this about our one adult one shopper program going forward; this will enable families and individuals in our community to purchase nonessential items your family needs. As we look and we’re reviewing our policy, we realize going out another three weeks that not purchasing those items would be unsustainable for families.”

As put forth in a previous ordinance, essential businesses that may remain open include grocery stores, funeral homes, all health care service providers, banks including lending institutions and other related businesses, gas stations and auto repair businesses, convenience stores, “Dollar” stores, day care facilities, restaurants and bars are to remain carry out, delivery, and drive-through only, utility and trash services, postal services/Fed Ex/UPS, veterinarian clinics, home improvement/hardware stores, hotels/motels, laundromats, public and private transportation services including Spirit of Kokomo, agricultural operations, pet stores, legal services, and social service agencies such as Rescue Mission, Bona Vista, CAM, and Salvation Army. These guidelines remain the same.

Last week Howard County banned the sale of nonessential items at businesses that were allowed to stay open. These supplies included jewelry, furniture, home and lawn décor, toys/games, carpets/rugs/flooring, non-emergency appliances, music/books/magazines, craft and art supplies, paint, and entertainment electronics. This ban has been lifted.

Even so, officials encouraged area residents to continue to limit themselves to essential travel only, as social distancing is the only means of limiting the spread of COVID-19.