Comal County issues stay-at-home order

(Courtesy Adobe Stock)
(Courtesy Adobe Stock)

(Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Comal County Judge Sherman Krause issued a "Stay Home/Stay Safe" order that goes into effect on Saturday, April 4. The order is active through April 30—the same time frame as Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order issued on Tuesday—and has the potential to be extended.

The stay-at-home order requires the county residents to avoid public spaces unless they are engaged in essential activities. Outdoor activities are still permitted as long as individuals comply with social distancing guidelines.

“After monitoring compliance with the governor’s executive order this week, we realized Comal County needed a clearer order that applied more specifically to our community,” Krause said in a press release issued by the county. “The vast majority of local residents and businesses have been complying with efforts to protect public health, and this order is designed to make sure everyone else comes into compliance.”

The preceding weekend, the county received a handful of complaints about people not following the voluntarily guidelines issued on March 27, according to a county official.

The new proclamation states that all public and private gatherings outside of residences are prohibited.

All residents and peoples within the county are subject to the order and its exemptions, both within city limits and in the unincorporated areas of the county.

Wherever a city order has been issued—such as the one signed by New Braunfels Mayor Baron Casteel—the municipal order supersedes the county's in any instance that they differ.

Organizations listed as essential by the state of Texas and Comal County may continue minimum basic operations.

Minimum basic operations are defined as "the business uses only the minimum number of employees necessary to conduct (1) the minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business's inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions; and (2) the minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences."

There are more than 30 distinct categories of exempt businesses listed in the order.

Businesses deemed nonessential must close, including river- or lake-related services and short-term campgrounds.

The press release notes that businesses forced to close may be eligible for low- or no-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“We have reluctantly undertaken this next step because the health and safety of Comal County residents comes first, and we want to be as clear as possible,” Krause said. “Limiting our social interaction is the best way to slow or stop the spread of the coronavirus.”

The previously issued guidance stated that "the goal is to minimize disruptions to daily life."

On March 26, two Comal County men died from travel-related cases of COVID-19 and the number of confirmed cases in the county has since doubled from nine to 18, six of which were in the last two days.

The newly issues order states the risk of rapid spread of the virus and the need to protect vulnerable community members as one of its reasons to be.

By Warren Brown
Warren joined Community Impact at the beginning of 2020 as the editor of its New Braunfels paper and now reports the news in San Marcos, Buda and Kyle. Warren previously wrote for the Dallas Observer and Fort Worth Weekly and he brings a passion for truth and equality to his reporting.