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San Antonio mayor restricts public gatherings larger than 50 people in adjustment to emergency declaration

Gathering restriction comes from CDC recommendation

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg plans to tighten restrictions on gatherings of more than 50 people in an effort to combat the spread of the new coronavirus starting Monday.

In a news conference held with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other local and state officials, Nirenberg said an updated emergency declaration now prohibits public gatherings of more than 50 people in the city limits. At least three people in San Antonio have tested positive for COVID-19, not including the evacuees at JBSA-Lackland.

This includes “all indoor public and private gatherings and outdoor gatherings within an enclosed space.”

Some sites, like churches, hospitals, grocery stores and the airport are exempted from the order. Those places have taken precautions, such as closing temporarily and other measures to limit personal contact.

Places that are not exempt include stadiums, meeting halls, arenas and event centers.

Although bars and restaurants are exempted from the declaration, the city is reaching out to those businesses to give them guidance on how to operate during this emergency. Nirenberg said the guidance includes recommendations on service, occupancy, table spacing and an emphasis on delivery and curbside orders.

The declaration also urges the public to avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people.

The emergency declaration will last for seven days, unless officials decide to extend it.

That announcement comes hours after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that large gatherings should be canceled for the next eight weeks.

Abbott also discussed updates to drive-through testing and confirmed officials plan to open additional testing sites soon. Although San Antonio’s drive-through site was reserved for first responders and healthcare workers, Abbott now said people 65 and over with a temperature of 99.6 degrees or higher can be tested there if they fit the criteria, which includes showing symptoms and a recommendation from a doctor.

Officials plan to release additional details about the new criteria soon, they said.

As testing becomes more accessible, Abbott said “far more than 10,000 people” can be tested in Texas per week.

“By the end of the week, everyone who needs a COVID-19 test will get a COVID-19 test,” Abbott said.

Officials were not able to provide updated numbers on how many Texans have been tested. The most recently available numbers were from Friday, where officials said 300 Texans are being monitored for their symptoms currently. Abbott provided those same numbers at the conference Monday, but said he would have updated figures later.

Abbott said there’s no need to panic or stockpile on groceries, but urged Texans to voluntarily self isolate at this time.

“Distance yourself,” Abbott said. “Do the routine that you’ve been told many times, wash your hands, practice good hygiene.”

To make sure grocery stories are meeting demand, Abbott lifted some regulations on trucking to ensure suppliers continue delivering goods to grocers.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.

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