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Explained: COVID-19 orders issued in San Antonio, Bexar County and Texas

What’s restricted, for how long and how do they impact each other?

Coronavirus in San Antonio | Illustration by Henry Keller
Coronavirus in San Antonio | Illustration by Henry Keller (KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – As the coronavirus pandemic continues around the world, Texas, Bexar County and San Antonio have all issued emergency declarations to implement social distancing and other measures in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The orders, all issued or extended on Thursday, have similar language that closes or restricts bars, gyms, theaters and dine-in restaurants. (Each of the latest orders are embedded below in full.)

While the governor’s public health disaster — which bans gatherings of 10 or more people through April 3 — supersedes the city and county emergency declarations, the city and county can add additional restrictions or dates that go beyond what the state has limited.

In Bexar County’s case, Wolff added provisions to suspend evictions and foreclosures as well as forbidding price gouging. San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said the city would follow those provisions, as well.

Restaurants will be allowed to operate drive-thru, deliver and takeout orders for curbside pickup. Grocery stores, gas stations and other vital businesses will also remain open. Nirenberg said it was a tough decision but that stopping the spread of the respiratory disease known as COVID-19 is paramount.

Gatherings larger than 10 people are also still barred, with few exceptions.

For the state of Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order related to COVID-19 preparedness and mitigation. His order goes into effect at midnight Friday through midnight April 3, but it could be extended, Abbott said.

Where it mirrors Abbott’s, Judge Wolff’s order also lasts through April 3, unless extended.

His directions regarding evictions, foreclosures, price gouging, and specifically banning groups of 10 or more people within an enclosed space, however, would all last for 30 days.

The San Antonio City Council also voted Thursday to extend the measures Nirenberg had ordered the evening before for 30 days - or through April 19 - though they can be lifted earlier. It was originally effective for seven days.

Here’s what we know:

Businesses barred from operating

As part of the declaration, several retail businesses are closed. They include:

  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Nightclubs
  • Taverns
  • Private clubs
  • Gyms, health studios
  • Indoor commercial amusement businesses
  • Bowling alleys
  • Bingo parlors

Restaurants and stores that violate the emergency order could pay civil penalties and fines, Nirenberg said.

“To be clear, the measures apply to the types of businesses referenced in this declaration. If they are not mentioned, the measure does not apply. Exemptions are also listed in the order," said Laura Mayes, a city spokesperson in a statement.

Businesses, locations that are exempt

Several places are still allowed to operate under the emergency declaration. They include:

  • Grocery stores
  • Gas stations
  • San Antonio International Airport
  • Public or private schools and child care facilities
  • Places of worship
  • Funeral homes
  • Museums (as long as visitors are not within arm’s length for extended periods of time)
  • Waiting spots for mass transit, like bus stops
  • Office spaces
  • Hotels
  • Residential buildings

Read the City of San Antonio’s full declaration below:

Bexar County’s emergency declaration

Here are some of the items included in that declaration:

  • Reducing public gatherings to 10 people or less
  • Rental property owners temporality suspend evictions for next 30 days
  • Foreclosure proceedings temporarily suspended for next 30 days
  • Constituents/Residents encouraged to conduct essential business online or by mail (avoid visiting Bexar County Facilities.
  • Violation for price gouging includes penalty up to $1,000 and 180 days in jail.

Read Bexar County’s full Emergency Health Declaration:

Texas’ Public Health Disaster

The state of Texas on Thursday declared a Public Health Disaster, closing restaurant dining rooms and schools for 5 million students.

Gov. Greg Abbott’s series of orders include:

  • Avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people
  • Avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts, or visiting gyms or massage parlors
  • No visits to nursing homes and retirement centers
  • Schools shall temporarily close

While eating at restaurants is banned, Abbott said that drive-thru, pickup or delivery options is allowed and highly encouraged.

The executive order goes into effect at midnight Friday through midnight April 3, but it could be extended, Abbott said.

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