The City of Natalia adopted an ordinance declaring a public health emergency and banning mass gatherings during the City Council Meeting held Monday, March 16.
The ordinance, which is available on the City website at www.cityofnatalia.com, prohibits all indoor public and private gatherings, as well as outdoor gatherings within an enclosed space, of more than 50 people in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus known as COVID-19.
The prohibition is in effect until Saturday, May 9, and may be extended with the requirements of the State and under the direction of Mayor Tommy Ortiz.
Not included in the ban are schools, places of worship, bus stops, and grocery stores, though following social distancing recommendations are recommended. That includes providing hand sanitizer, tissues, frequent cleaning of commonly touched surfaces, and maintaining a six-foot distance from one person to another.
Emergency rules for restaurants were also enacted, which require restaurants and food establishments to take steps to reduce the chance of exposure to COVID-19. Those steps include: displaying a “Stop the Spread of Germs” sign provided by the CDC in a location clearly visible; making hand sanitizer available; disinfecting and sanitizing commonly touched surfaces and nonfood-contact surfaces of equipment at least once every hour; and adopting food-management policies that provide for the exclusion of food handlers from their duties if develop a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher during their shift.
City Administrator Lisa Hernandez said that the City’s municipal operations would continue as usual, though considerations would be made to limit personal contact in public facilities to limit the risk of exposure.
“We’ll have hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, and Lysol,” Hernandez said. “We encourage citizens to call the office or conduct business online. Forms can be printed from the City website and faxed in, or left in the drop box.”
While Governor Greg Abbott suspended certain provisions of the Texas Government Code that require government officials to conduct meetings in order to allow meetings to be held via teleconference or videoconference, Hernandez said the City doesn’t have the necessary technology and will still hold Council meetings in person.
“We still have to abide by social distancing recommendations,” Hernandez said. “Meetings will be limited to no more than fifty people, maybe less.”
Priority attendees for meetings are Council members, City staff, people presenting on an agenda item, and the news media. Residents who wish to address Council regarding a non-agenda item will be called in to speak one at a time.
Chairs inside Council chambers will be set six feet apart, as per social distancing recommendations, which allows for only 21 attendees.
Municipal Court hearings are also being postponed and reset.
For more information, visit the City website or call the City office at 830-663-2926.
By Marly Davis