Mayor extends emergency declaration; staff distribute signs at local businesses
All businesses and public buildings in Cotulla have been given new signage this week, requiring anyone who enters to wear a face mask.
The new regulation has taken effect and is aimed at curbing the spread of the potentially deadly COVID-19 coronavirus. Cotulla’s order comes at a time when Texas is experiencing a raise in the number of virus victims.
The decision to implement the mandatory mask order was made in a council meeting Thursday evening, June 25, and the city’s amended emergency declaration was signed by Mayor Javier Garcia and City Attorney Steve Pena.
Signs mandating mask use were distributed to local businesses on Friday, June 26. A number of store owners had begun displaying the signs by mid-afternoon.
“All commercial and public businesses open to customers and citizens under the auspices of (Governor’s Order) GA26 and
prior statewide governmental orders, shall require facial covering of all individuals older than six years of age when entering,” the mayor’s oder read, but added “Upon entry of such buildings, individuals may remove their facial coverings when social distancing of at least six feet between individuals is established.”
The order effectively mandates that everyone wear a mask when approaching or passing through pedestrian choke-point, such as a door or entryway, a cashier area or other typically crowded place in a building where social distancing is made difficult.
The mayor noted in his renewal of the city’s emergency order that “familial units of individuals living in the same household are not required to maintain the six-feet social distancing” while in a business or public building.
Councilors agreed last week to extend the emergency order that has been in place for Cotulla since earlier this year, having been signed shortly after the Texas governor issued a proclamation on March 19, certifying that COVID-19 “poses an imminent threat of disaster in the state” and declaring a state of disaster for all of Texas’ 254 counties.
The mayor’s signature on Thursday extends his declaration of a state of disaster for Cotulla through July 31.
“This declaration authorizes the city to take any action necessary to promote health and suppress the virus,” the mayor wrote, “including the quarantine of persons and occupied structures, examnining and regulating hospitals, regulating ingress to and egress from the city, regulating ingress to and egress from occupied structures; establishment of quarantine stations, emergency hospitals and other hospitals; and ensuring compliance.”
Similar in wording to that signed by other municipal and county governments across the state, the declaration “authorizes the use of all lawfully available enforcement tools.”
One of the city’s largest public buildings, the AB Alexander Convention Center on the IH-35 access road, has been closed and cannot be booked for private functions until the city’s emergency order has been lifted. City councilors are presently using the building to hold their meetings, which are streamed live on social media.
“The city of Cotulla is taking extraordinary measures to prevent the spread of this potentially devastating disease in our community,” the mayor wrote.