Officials expand restrictions as fear of coronavirus lingers; some businesses ordered to close
Updated: Apr 9, 2020
By SARA VANDEN BERGE
City and county officials have added new restrictions to local businesses and residents as the fear of COVID-19 lingers.
Erath County commissioners and the Stephenville City Council met separately via teleconference on Wednesday to discuss Monday’s revelation that a Stephenville man tested positive for coronavirus.
The county first issued a declaration outlining new guidelines that some city officials, including Dr. Kelly Doggett, the city’s health authority, did not believe went far enough to stop the spread of the virus.
After the county issued its declaration, the city hammered out its own in a heated debate that centered around the impact that forcing some businesses to close would have on the local economy.
Councilman Brady Pendleton argued that ordering businesses to shutter violated constitutional rights and was an example of “government intrusion.”
“When we start telling people they can’t be in business, we have crossed a line,” Pendleton said.
The statement was met with a strong response from Dr. Doggett who said, “It is not a ‘constitutional right’ to spread COVID-19 throughout the community.”
HIGHLIGHTS OF WHAT THE COUNTY ADOPTED:
• Businesses that remain open must comply with social distancing guidelines (six-feet) between employees and the public.
• Allows outdoor activities (hiking, walking, running) and other necessary tasks including caring for members and pets in other households as long as residents practice social distancing.
• Public or private gatherings of any number of people outside a single household are prohibited.
• Restaurants can continue to offer takeout and carryout service (no dine-in).
• Worship services may be held by video and teleconference.
• Elective medical and dental procedures are prohibited in Erath County.
• Childcare facilities will be allowed to operate under specific guidelines that include taking the children’s temperatures every 90 minutes and not allowing groups of 10 or more.
• Those who test positive for COVID-19 are required to self-quarantine at home along with other family members who have been exposed.
WHAT THE CITY ADOPTED:
• Closes tattoo shops, spas, hair, nail and tanning salons.
• Water will not be cut off due to an inability to pay.
• Created a special time from 6-10 a.m. Monday, Thursday and Saturday for senior citizens over 60 years old to grocery shop.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.