SAN ANTONIO – Starting Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. the “Stay Home, Work Safe” emergency orders went into effect in San Antonio, likely until at least April 9.
The orders, put in place to help slow the spread of the new coronavirus, direct residents to shelter at home unless they’re running crucial errands or performing essentials job duties.
So what happens if someone violates the emergency orders? We asked city and county leaders to explain.
“The City of San Antonio/SAPD’s enforcement protocol is as follows: Violation of the Mayor’s emergency order is a Class C misdemeanor which is punishable by a fine up to $2,000. Each incident is handled on a case-by-case basis, and officers are using their discretion in issuing citations,” said a Alisia Pruneda, a spokesperson for the San Antonio Police Department.
“Although fines and jail time are a distant possibility, we prefer messaging and warnings at this point. I’d ask everyone to voluntarily comply with the order, not because of fear of fines or jail time, but because it’s the right thing to do," said Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar.
“San Antonio Police are not going to pull you over if you are outside of your home, and you do not need a permission slip to prove you work for a business that is allowed to remain open,” said Jeff Coyle, government and public affairs director for the city. “We expect the public to follow the Stay Home order, and our enforcement efforts will focus on the businesses that should be closed, and that proper social distancing measures are being followed by those that are open.”
While rolling out the order on Monday, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said there is punishment on the table, if necessary: “These are enforced ordinances so there are civil penalties, fines and we will be using law enforcement to make sure that people are in compliance."
Bexar County Commissioner Kevin Wolff echoed those sentiments at a Tuesday meeting, saying that leaders are expecting residents to follow the orders.
“Hopefully we will not have to invoke the penalties," Wolff said. "We don’t want to do any of that. Help us get through this crisis.”
District Attorney Joe Gonzales sent the following statement when asked for clarification on the emergency order:
It will depend on how aggravated the violation is and whether the person or business has had previous violations and been given an opportunity to correct this behavior. Theoretically, anyone who violates either the City or County orders are subject to both a civil penalty, ranging up to $2,000 for the City and $1,000 for the County and potential incarceration of up to six months. Unlike other counties that have already indicated that part of their focus will be immediate enforcement, San Antonio and Bexar County are going to give people an opportunity to avoid these enforcement measures and voluntarily comply before enforcement actions are undertaken.
For more information on businesses allowed to remain open, click here.
There will be a live Q&A Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. with officials from the city of San Antonio regarding the “Stay Home, Work Safe” emergency orders. This will be live-streamed on KSAT.
Residents can submit questions in advance on social media to @COSAGOV on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Residents can also submit questions by calling 311 or 210-207-6000 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
A post on the San Antonio Police Department Facebook page says if anyone needs to file a police report they can go to SanAntonio.gov/sapd and click on “FILE A POLICE REPORT” on the home page.
See more information from the city about the local response to the COVID-19 outbreak here.
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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