San Antonio Mayor and Bexar County Judge issue new 'Stay Home' orders

Elizabeth Ruiz

SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) –  Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Judge Nelson Wolff  have expanded their Stay Home, Work Safe Orders aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.  The orders are effective beginning at 11:59 p.m. Wedneseday, April 29, 2020.

The orders require that everyone 10 years or older wear a cloth face covering over their nose and mouth when in a public place, or patronizing businesses where it is difficult to maintain six feet of distance from others, such as grocery stores, pharmacies or working  in areas that involve close proximity to coworkers.

“The social distancing and other common-sense measures recommended by our public safety officials have been successful,” said Nirenberg. “The new orders are a continuation of that effective strategy, which is undoubtedly limiting the spread of COVID-19 and reducing the damage being done by this highly contagious disease.”

Businesses must provide cloth face coverings to employees who are in close proximity to coworkers or the public.

City Council on Thursday will vote on whether to extend the orders until May 19.

The City’s order can be found here<https://www.sanantonio.gov/Portals/0/Files/health/COVID19/Public%20Info/4.29%20Mayor’s%20Emergency%20Declaration%20No.%206.pdf?ver=2020-04-29-173056-153>.

The County’s order can be found here<http://www.bexar.org/>.

“This latest order will allow us to keep the tools in place that have proved successful while still conforming to the Governor’s latest orders. Furthermore, this order extends the temporary suspension of eviction and foreclosure proceedings,” stated  Wolff.  “Together with the City of San Antonio, we have put in place measures based on science and medical guidance that will allow for the gradual reopening while still providing for the safety of our community.”

Cloth face coverings could include homemade masks, scarfs, bandanas or a handkerchief. The orders say the public should reserve medical grade masks and N95 respirators for first responders and health care workers. The public must continue social distancing while outside their home while performing essential activities, as outlined in the expanded Stay Home Work Safe orders.

Face coverings do not need to be worn in the following circumstances:

*   When exercising outside or engaging in physical activity outside
*   While driving alone or with passengers who are part of the same household as the driver
*   When doing so poses a greater mental or physical health, safety, or security risk
*   While pumping gas or operating outdoor equipment
*   While in a building or activity that requires security surveillance or screening, for example, banks
*   When consuming food or drink

When using cloth face coverings, the public should:

*   Wash their hands with soap and water before putting on your mask.
*   Make sure it covers their mouth and nose. It should fit snugly, but comfortably.
*   Not touch their eyes, nose, and mouth while wearing your mask.
*   When removing, avoid touching their face.
*   Wash their hands or use hand sanitizer immediately after.
*   Remember to wash their mask. Cloth face coverings can go straight in the washing machine or can be washed by hand with soap and warm water.

Consistent with Executive Order GA-18 issued by Governor Greg Abbott, a civil or criminal penalty will not be imposed on persons who do not wear a cloth face covering, but they should consider the health and safety of their neighbors as they leave their homes for essential activities.

All businesses operating within San Antonio and Bexar County, except essential services and reopened services as defined by Governor Abbot’s Executive Order  are required to stop operations and close. These services should follow the following protocols:

1.  Limit the amount of people at pickup or in an establishment so that social distancing is maintained
2.  Implement an organized line system where people are spaced at least six-feet apart
3.  Use of drive-thru, pickup or delivery options for food and drinks continues to be highly encouraged.
4.  Limiting occupancy to 25 percent of the limit on the establishment’s Certificate of Occupancy is highly encouraged.

Essential services include those listed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in its Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, Version 3.0 or any subsequent version, plus religious services conducted in churches, congregations, and houses of worship.

Governor Abbott’s order includes the following reopened services, at 25 percent occupancy retail stores, dine-in restaurants, movie theaters, shopping malls, museums, libraries (at this time, City-owned libraries remained closed), golf courses and places of worship. The Governor’s order does not mandate the opening of these facilities; however, they may reopen if they choose to. These services need to follow specific sector guidance in the Governor’s guidance for reopening businesses.

Violations of the orders may be reported to 210-207-SAPD.

The Governor’s order indicates that bars, gyms, bowling alleys, arcades, public swimming pools, massage establishments, tattoo and piercing studios and cosmetology and barber ships must remain closed.

The city says those businesses that are required to remain closed should review and follow the COVID-19 Health Transition Team Report: A guide to reopening San Antonio and Bexar County, which can be found here<https://www.sanantonio.gov/gpa/News/ArtMID/24373/ArticleID/18811/COVID-19-Health-Transition-Team-Releases-Guidance-on-Reopening-San-Antonio-Bexar-County>.

Those who are sick should stay at home and not engage in any activity outside their residence, unless they are seeking treatment or health care. If someone in a household has tested positive for COVID-19, they must follow the isolation and quarantine measures proscribed by local, state, or federal health authorities.

If a member of a household tests positive then other members of the household should consider themselves positive if they become symptomatic and also follow the isolation and quarantine measures proscribed by local, state, or federal health authorities.

A number of health care providers and others have been marketing and administering COVID-19 antibody testing to consumers.   If a member of the public is considering or planning an antibody test, they should make sure that the provider will administer an antibody test that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and that you will be fully informed of the test protocol and test results.
No cost COVID-19 testing is available at www.sanantonio.gov<http://www.sanantonio.gov> or by calling 311 and selecting option 8.  Before you receive an antibody test, the city recommends reviewing FDA information and guidance,  which can be found on https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/letters-health-care-providers/important-information-use-serological-antibody-tests-covid-19-letter-health-care-providers.

Consistent with Governor Abbott’s Executive Order GA-18, those who engage in outdoor activity and sports may not participate with more than four participants and must maintain social distancing. In support of this measure, all recreational areas where social distancing and sanitizing requirements are difficult or impossible to meet, including community and school playgrounds, outdoor exercise equipment, skate plazas, splash pads and basketball courts including those located in apartment complexes or homeowner’s association and/or neighborhood association owned areas, shall close for the duration of these measures.

The Mayor’s order also supports Judge Wolff’s order to suspend rental evictions and foreclosures so that individuals who have lost their source of income can remain in their homes during this health crisis. The City’s order also supports full compliance with the Order from the Texas Supreme Court’s moratorium on eviction proceedings until May 18, 2020.

The order continues to prohibit nursing homes, retirement and long-term care facilities from allowing access to non-essential visitors unless they are providing medical assistance or visiting a friend or family member expected to pass away soon. Staff members at long-term care facilities may only work at one facility.  Long-term care facilities should identify and exclude potentially infected staff members and implement appropriate infection control measures.

All public, private, and commercial laboratories operating within the City of San Antonio and performing COVID-19 testing must continue to report daily to the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District the number of COVID-19 tests performed and the number of positive COVID-19 tests. This information will be used solely for public health purposes to monitor the testing conducted in the City and mitigate and contain the spread of COVID-19.


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About the Author: Elizabeth Ruiz

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