Updated: Comal and Guadalupe County stay-at-home orders to expire, New Braunfels order revoked

Comal and Guadalupe County stay-at-home orders have expired and New Braunfels order was revoked. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)
Comal and Guadalupe County stay-at-home orders have expired and New Braunfels order was revoked. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)

Comal and Guadalupe County stay-at-home orders have expired and New Braunfels order was revoked. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)

Comal and Guadalupe County's stay-at-home orders are set to expire on April 30, and neither will be extended.

A press release issued by Comal County on Wednesday, April 29, announced the decision, and the Guadalupe County Commissioners Court stated the same at Tuesday's meeting.

On Thursday, April 30, New Braunfels issued a press release announcing that Mayor Barron Casteel signed an order that nullifies all previous orders from the city since the initial disaster declaration.

“The City of New Braunfels is following the guidelines set out by Governor Greg Abbott for reopening businesses in our community,” Casteel said in a press release.

Casteel noted in an interview on Friday, April 24, that stay-at-home orders would only be effective in containing the virus unless the orders were widespread, since local residents work in surrounding cities and counties.

Abbott's executive order, issued on Monday, April 27, allows many businesses, including retail stores and restaurants, to reopen on Friday with their occupant capacity reduced to 25% of its full capacity.

“The Governor’s order allows us to restore portions of our community while continuing discussions of how future reopenings will be managed to ensure that the health and safety of our residents remains the priority," Casteel said in the release.

Abbot's orders also include a list of businesses that are still prohibited, such as gyms, bars, public swimming pools, bowling alleys, massage establishments, tattoo and piercing studios, barbershops, and salons.

Dr. Dorothy Overman, Comal County's Health Authority, said in the press release that social distancing measures will continue to be necessary.

“As local businesses begin to reopen, we should remember that the coronavirus is not gone from our community,” Overman said in the release. “The numbers of cases and deaths do appear to be improving in Texas, but a resurgence of cases could occur.

Since April 27, Comal County has seen a modest increase with five confirmed cases, but Guadalupe County has reported 11 new cases in the same time period. Together, they represent a 13.5% increase in total cases across both county's, where there are 44 active cases of COVID-19 and six hospitalizations.

Comal County has reported six deaths due to the virus, with the two most recent reported on April 13. To date, Guadalupe has been spared of any fatalities.

"I encourage all of our residents to continue good hand hygiene, social distancing and wearing facial coverings in public," Overman said. "All of these measures are working to protect all of us, especially our older population, those who have compromised immune systems, and those who have underlying health conditions putting them at greater risk.”

Comal County's press release noted that Abbott's orders do not cover local rivers and tourism industries, and clarification is being sought from the state. New Braunfels stated that river outfitters will remain closed until approved by the state.

“Throughout this process, our goal has been to follow the governor’s orders and clarify them where necessary for situations unique to Comal County,” said County Judge Sherman Krause in the press release. “Therefore, our order will expire as scheduled on Thursday, and the county will continue to follow the governor’s direction.”

Abbott has said that barring a spike in coronavirus cases, businesses could increase their capacity by another 50% in May, but that decision will not be evaluated for several weeks.

The New Braunfels press release also noted that Landa Park Golf Course, tennis courts at Prince Solms Park, the disc golf course and park restrooms will reopen.

The Coal County Fire Marshall's office is available to help businesses in Spring Branch, garden Ridge and unincorporated parts of the county if owners and operators do not know their capacity.

Abbot's most recent executive orders deemed additional businesses as essential and able to reopen with restrictions. Krause said that any businesses not classified as essential should apply for inclusion through the Texas Division of Emergency Management.

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.