Whitehall’s overnight curfew, which was lifted May 1, met its intended goal, city leaders say.
“Education was our process, and that worked,” Whitehall police Chief Mike Crispen said.
The curfew had been in place since March 23.
Mayor Kim Maggard’s order of a midnight-to-6 a.m. curfew had aligned with the original stay-at-home order announced by Gov. Mike DeWine to control the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
But DeWine on April 27 announced a plan to begin reopening parts of the state’s economy May 1.
“As Gov. DeWine is gradually reopening Ohio and businesses are beginning to reopen, more people are out and about,” Maggard said.
She said she and Crispen agreed it was time for the curfew to be lifted.
“Since the sole purpose of the mayor’s order was to protect our businesses while they were all closed, and since the governor is allowing them to (open), there is no longer a need for the extra protection,” Crispen said.
DeWine’s original stay-at-home order had exceptions that included trips to the grocery store, pharmacy and other essential destinations, and it also included an exception for outdoor recreational activities, such as walking a pet or jogging – but Whitehall officials said in March that they did not see the need to exercise outdoors in the dead of night.
“There are some unscrupulous people who take advantage in a crisis,” Maggard said March 23.
Maggard’s order of a citywide curfew was allowed under her powers after declaring a state of emergency March 16 in Whitehall in response to the growing pandemic.
Following the original stay-at-home mandate that DeWine announced March 22, which was effective at 11:59 p.m. March 23, Maggard said she and Crispen decided the additional, local measure was needed.
“The outdoor-activity exception (in DeWine’s stay-at-home order) is a kind of free-for-all,” Crispen said in March.
Although outdoor activity is essential, it does not need to “occur at 2 a.m. at Town and Country (Shopping Center),” he said.
At the start of the curfew, theft-related offenses dropped by about 40% but slowly edged back up to typical numbers, Crispen said after the curfew period ended.
Still, the curfew permitted police to interact with people to determine if any crimes were being committed, he said.
During the entirety of the curfew period, police did not charge anyone solely for violating it, Crispen said.