City, County issue indefinite disaster declarations
Officials from the City of Fredericksburg and Gillespie County have issued local state of disaster declarations due to the public health emergency related to COVID-19.
Declarations are in effect indefinitely.
The mayor and county judge have the ability to terminate the declarations at their disclosure.
City of Fredericksburg
City of Fredericksburg Mayor Linda Langerhans signed a Disaster Declaration on Thursday, March 19, in response to COVID-19.
City council voted to extend this declaration indefinitely during a special meeting at 3:30 p.m. Monday, in the City Hall Conference Room, 126 W. Main St.
Langerhans can make changes to the declaration without the consent of City Council.
This declaration prohibits community gatherings of 10 or more people, effective immediately.
Community gatherings include scheduled indoor or outdoor events that bring together or are likely to bring together more than 10 people in a common space, room or area, including, but not limited to conferences, festivals, parades, special events, concerts and sporting events.
City attorney Daniel Jones said this does apply to weddings and funerals if those gatherings are projected to have more than 10 people.
Businesses with more than 10 employees can stay open under the city’s declaration, Jones said.
Under this law, regular attendance at public or private schools, public or private colleges and child care centers are not prohibited. However, after Gov. Greg Abbott’s announcement on Thursday, attendance to those listed, except child care centers, is not allowed.
Additional restrictions could be decided by the mayor at a later time.
Those who commit an offense could receive a fine of up to $1,000 and jail time of up to 180 days. Those who fail to comply could receive a fine of up to $2,000. Police officers and sheriff deputies are authorized to use all lawfully available enforcement tools at this time.
This declaration also authorizes the city and the County of Gillespie to establish quarantine stations, emergency hospitals and other hospitals.
Should the city need financial help after using excess funds, Jones said this declaration could allow that. For residents who need assistance, this declaration could assist them in getting that relief.
The City of Fredericksburg is providing daily recording updates on COVID-19, which can be heard by calling 830-307-3680. Information about the virus can be found at www.fbgtx.org/coronavirus.
Gillespie County Judge Mark Stroeher signed a declaration of local state of disaster Thursday, March 19 due to the public health emergency related to COVID-19.
The Gillespie County Commissioners Court approved a declaration allowing it to continue indefinitely, unless terminated by Stroeher.
“The county judge or the mayor can issue a declaration but that declaration is only good for up to seven days, unless the commissioners court approves the declaration and agrees for it to continue. This would be the same for the mayor and the city council,” Stroeher said.
It goes into effect immediately.
Monday’s regular meeting allowed the commissioners to extend it indefinitely. Stroeher said it would last until he would terminate the declaration.
The declaration states that the county is taking “extraordinary measures to prevent the spread of this potentially devasting disease.” It also allows the county to activate an emergency management plan and furnish aid assistance.
The declaration also states that all gatherings should be limited to no more than 10 people and cancels all gatherings of more than 10 people until further notice. Stroeher said this does not affect regular business operations.
“A gathering refers to a generally scheduled event or common endeavor, inside or outside, where more than 10 people are present in a confined space, area or room,” the document stated. “This includes, but is not limited to conferences, festivals, parades, concerts and sporting events. A gathering does not include regular attendance at a public or private school, college, university or daycare center.”
Stroeher said this also includes funerals and weddings, since they are scheduled events with 10 or more people gathering.
According to the declaration, a person who knowingly or intentionally violates this declaration commits an offense and will be fined up to $1,000 or confinement in jail for no more than 180 days.
The commissioners court also held a special meeting on Tuesday morning to discuss further actions that would impact county employees.
“We provide a public service which means there is a lot of face-to-face interaction,” Stroeher said. “We also have to protect our employees so we have to find a way to still provide our services to the public while implementing important measures.”
See related story for more information.