SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff have directed non-essential businesses to close and directed residents to remain in their homes in hopes of slowing the spread of the new coronavirus.
The “Stay Home, Work Safe” emergency orders (embedded below) directs residents to shelter at home with the exception of crucial errands and job duties. Restaurants will remain open for delivery and takeout orders, as will grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies and other essential businesses. The order will be in effect starting 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday and will remain in effect until April 9 unless extended.
Nirenberg pointed to the rise in community-spread cases as part of the reason for the new declarations. As of Monday, Bexar County had 57 cases, 16 of which were contracted in the community, according to the most recent numbers provided by the Metropolitan Health District. One COVID-19 death has been reported in Bexar County so far: a woman in her 80s who suffered from underlying health issues.
“Our message is simple, you must stay at home,” Nirenberg said at a 6 p.m. press conference. “The best way to reduce spread of the coronavirus is through strict social distancing.”
Residents can leave home to pick up groceries, medicine and food. They can also exercise outdoors as long as they keep six feet of distance between them and the next person. Residents can also leave for work, provided they work for one of the exempted businesses listed in the declaration.
Any type of business that is not explicitly named in the order is banned from operating until the declaration is lifted, Nirenberg said. This would include clothing stores, nail salons, hair salons and tattoo parlors.
“These are painful steps, we know, but they’re necessary to protect life and safety," Nirenberg said.
Residents may still be able to work from home, depending on how their business operates.
While city and county officials continue to place more restrictions as the pandemic plays out, Nirenberg urged residents not to panic and to stop unnecessarily hoarding supplies.
Previous amendments, like the prohibition of evictions while the declaration is in effect, is also extended until April 9, according to both orders.
As of Monday morning, at least 334 people in Texas have tested positive for the virus, and six have died.
On Sunday, Governor Greg Abbott stopped short of issuing a so-called shelter in place order statewide, saying that social distancing measures he implemented last week — closing schools and dine-in eating through April 3 and banning gatherings larger than 10 — have not been in place long enough to know whether the spread of the virus will be slowed enough to maintain adequate hospital operations. Still, Abbott said his restrictions are a baseline for local officials to build on, based on their community’s needs.
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Shortly after, on Sunday night, Dallas County was the first major Texas city to issue a “shelter at home” order to residents, the tightest limits anywhere in Texas so far. Residents are asked to stay at home except for critical business and errands and all businesses deemed non-essential must stop operating.
Austin is expected to make a similar announcement on Tuesday.
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.
This is a developing story and we’ll provide updates as they are available.
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