San Antonio’s District 8 Councilman Manny Pelaez will self-quarantine after returning from Colombia on Sunday. The decision came after city manager Erik Walsh requested all city employees returning from overseas trips undergo a 14-day quarantine in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The councilman, his wife, and children spent their spring break at his family’s ranch outside Bogota, Colombia.
The memo Walsh sent to all employees -- civilian and uniformed -- include directives if the employee or a member of their family returns from a trip outside of the United States.
“You will be allowed to remote work/telecommute during this time. If you are unable to remote work, you will be provided administrative leave. While on administrative leave, you must call your supervisor daily,” Walsh said in the memo.
Pelaez said he talked to Walsh directly before coming to the decision to quarantine himself for two weeks.
“He agreed that it might be a good idea for me to follow that directive,” he explained, “and I’m going to take that very seriously and do exactly what it is we’re expecting our employees to do.”
There won’t be a work stoppage in his office. He’ll be working remotely.
“In 2020, working remotely is the new normal anyway, and so I’m not going to be going into our field office,” he said. “We’re still working full office days – my staff and I – but we’ll be doing it from the safety of our homes.”
That includes council meetings. The city council is set to meet in the next several days but Pelaez will join them and vote via video conference.
“We’ve been working with our IT department at the city. We’re setting up a workstation for me at home,” he said.
The Pelaez family was scheduled to return home on Sunday with a transfer into the United States in Miami.
Colombia has about 22 documented cases of coronavirus.
Pelaez left San Antonio last Thursday, one day before Austin canceled the annual SXSW expo amid global fears of the virus.
In the time since – less than a week and a half – the Houston Rodeo was canceled, the city of San Antonio announced two travel-related coronavirus cases, Fiesta was postponed, San Antonio limited public gatherings to less than 500 people, and the city, state, and federal government issued emergency declarations.
“I left a United States that is completely different than the one I’ll be coming home to,” he said.