City of Monroe takes action to crack down on large crowds gathering during coronavirus pandemic

Mayor John Howard issued an executive order for the city of Monroe. It bans gatherings of 10 people or more. The move is an effort to help control the spread of the coronavirus.

The order went into effect on Saturday. It follows complaints about people gathering to hold street parties.

"It's extremely disappointing that we have 400 to 500 people that live in or around the city of Monroe who share a common lack of judgment," says Mayor Howard.

Last Thursday, council members discussed, but voted down a curfew. It would have kept people inside of their homes from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Only one council member supported the move.

Police Chief R.V. Watts also favored a curfew. He told the council, which held the meeting by way of video conference, the move would help cut down on large gatherings.

"Not only does that expose them to one another, but it's exposing our officers," says Chief Watts.

Mayor Howard says the council will review the issue at its April 7 meeting. Because he can only issue executive orders for three days, Howard says he will sign one until the council can revisit how to move forward. He tells FOX 5 a shelter in place or curfew is a last resort.

"I don't want to dictate anyone's freedoms and liberties, trample on anyone's freedoms and liberties as a government official or government entity."

Violators of the executive order could be cited and face hundreds of dollars in fines.