Leander Police Chief Greg Minton issued a statement March 26 dispelling rumors related to coronavirus he said are circulating on social media.
“We are not being asked to detain, arrest, ticket, or establish checkpoints for compliance,” Minton said in the statement. “I have read countless rumors on social media of strict law enforcement, martial law, and individuals or locations needing ‘passes or licenses’ to conduct essential activities. It is simply not true.”
On March 25, Williamson County Attorney Dee Hobbs released a statement quelling similar rumors.
"Please be advised that this order provides no legal requirement that individuals carry letters from their employers regarding whether they are employed with an essential business or performing minimal basic operations for non-essential business, all as defined by the order," the statement said.
The stay-at-home order, which was issued by Williamson and Travis counties as well as the city of Austin, went into effect March 26 to address coronavirus concerns. Social gatherings are now prohibited, and all companies must have employees stay home unless they meet criteria as an essential business.
Those who want to report violations should not call 911, Minton said.
“Instead, call our nonemergency number at 512-528-2800,” Minton said in a March 26 statement. “And consider reporting only extreme offenses such as large house parties, open restaurant dining areas or mass gatherings.
“While we understand that every incident is serious, it’s important for us to prioritize public safety resources for critical emergencies.”
The Cedar Park Police Department also recommends citizens reporting violators use its nonemergency phone number, spokesperson Alicia Inns said.
“If there is an identified safety issue related to these Stay Home Stay Safe Orders, please call the non-emergency dispatch line at 512-260-4600 to report it,” Inns said in an email. “These calls will be screened to determine if police response is appropriate.”
The Cedar Park and Leander police departments have issued guidelines for citizens to stay in place and penalties for violators, largely pulling from similar orders issued by Williamson and Travis counties.
“When officers encounter people not complying with the stay-at-home orders, we will remind them of the restrictions, Minton said in the statement. “Officers will also document the incident, and if repeat violations occur, we will handle them on a case-by-case basis.”
CPPD is also using an education first policy, according to Inns.
“Officers will educate individuals and businesses, make an effort to gain compliance and issue a warning if necessary,” Inns said. “As a last resort measure, if the violator or business does not voluntarily comply, they could be issued a criminal citation that carries a penalty of up to $1,000.00 and/or up to180 days in jail.”