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San Antonio City Council Approves Mayor’s Stay Home Orders Until June 4. Here’s What That Means

Joey Palacios | Texas Public Radio
Texas Public Radio
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg speaks to the press after Thursday's apporval of the stay at home orders by the city council.

The City of San Antonio’s “Stay Home, Work Safe” Orders will last until June 4 after formal approval by the San Antonio City Council Thursday. The orders mirror the state, but go further in other areas.

Under the city’s extended orders face masks are strongly encouraged, 6 feet of distance is required and public gatherings are still forbidden, which is listed in the state’s order. The city includes requirements that go beyond the state in the reporting of test results and long term facility care. The council voted unanimously.

Earlier this week Bexar County extended a pause on evictions until June 1, and foreclosures until July 6 in its own public health orders.

On Friday, bars reopen to the public along with a long list of what the state refers to as covered services; which encompasses all businesses and activities as they reopen under the governor’s time table.

Even while businesses reopen, under the city, Bexar County, and state orders residents are encouraged to stay home as much as possible.

“The point of all this stays the same, if we’re not engaged in an essential service declared by the governor the people need to stay home,” Nirenberg said. “This virus is still out there and we’re doing our part to contain it.”

Under state orders, restaurants can move to 50% capacity on Friday as well. Gyms and day care centers reopened this Monday but there are still limitations on what can operate. At the end of the month, professional sports can resume with no spectators as well as youth camps and youth sports. On June 1, public schools can begin offering in-classroom activities.

However, businesses like video arcades, amusement parks, and water parks do not have a reopening date.

One change the city made to its orders is reducing the enforcement penalty. Previous violations could levy a fine of up to $2,000 under city ordinance, but it was scaled back under state limits to $1,000.

Beyond what the state is requiring, the city is enacting its own measures.

For instance, the requirement of private labs to report all COVID-19 test results on a daily basis. That data is used by health officials to determine positivity rates which has seen a decline in Bexar County.

As of Wednesday night, about 94.8% of tests had returned negative — with more than 48,500 tests administered since San Antonio Metro Health began surveillance for the pandemic in March.

The total number of cases in Bexar County was 2,322 on Wednesday.

The city’s order also includes advising the public about antibody testing. The order is targeting health care providers that are administering or marketing antibody tests.

“False claims about the reliability of antibody test results, and about proof of immunity to COVID-19, place the public’s health at risk. The City and County will work together to protect the community from misleading or inaccurate testing practices,” the signed order said.

Another is requiring nursing home workers to not work at multiple facilities. This was previously included after a coronavirus outbreak sickened more than six dozen residents and staff at the Southeast Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

As of Thursday, five nursing home or long term care facilities have on-going outbreaks

The city is also strongly suggesting that businesses that have reopened provide face masks to their employees.

A note made by several city council members on Thursday: the same orders that encourage residents not to leave their homes are also reopening businesses is confusing for people.  

During Thursday’s council meeting, District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry pointed to the “Stay Home, Work Safe” order title used by San Antonio.

“People are still taking it that they can’t go outside the home, yet they can go out to restaurants, they can go shopping, they can go to businesses that open. We need to make that transition as well, and I think we need to change that title so that it is not creating that confusion out there,” Perry said.

City Attorney Andy Segovia responded saying the orders by the governor include the same language of encouraging people to stay home.

Nirenberg said Perry made a fair point, adding that it’s one of the problems with nomenclature in emergency orders.

“A lot of people were referring to these orders as shelter-in-place,” Nirenberg said. “These are not shelter-in-place orders; those are for extreme weather events, active shooters where you literally cannot move from your home.”

Nirenberg made note that the “Stay Home, Work Safe” name was decided upon with the mayors of Texas’ other major cities. 

District 7 Councilwoman Ana Sandoval recommended the state needs to make it clear in its  orders as well.

“I would recommend asking the governor to clarify why he’s calling one thing ‘open Texas’ and the order says stay home unless you’re going out for these particular issues. I really do think that needs to be resolved over there,” Sandoval said.

About changing the name of the city’s order, Nirenberg said it wasn’t as important about what it’s called.

“It’s more important what the order says which is that we are slowly phasing a reopening of our economy in alignment with the state that keeps everyone safe and healthy and allows an opportunity to watch the data to make sure it doesn’t go in the wrong directions,” he said after the meeting.

Joey Palacios can be reached at Joey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules.

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules