City of WF issues Shelter-in-Place order

Interview with the WF Mayor

WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - Wichita Falls city councilors have approved the implementation of a shelter-in-place order.

The order says citizens must stay at home and practice social distancing. Travel is only permitted for essential activities.

The order will be in effect at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 27 and will continue until Wednesday, April 8 at 1 p.m. unless it is terminated or modified by the Mayor and the City Council of the City of Wichita Falls.

Violating the order is a misdemeanor and will be punishable with a fine ranging from $1 to $1,000 or a jail sentence of no more than 180 days.

The City has called another meeting for next week to discuss possible amendments to this order.

The City has also released some answers to frequently asked questions:


  • Grocery stores and pharmacies will be open.
  • Restaurants can still serve food to-go.
  • Outdoor exercise is allowed, so long as the participants do not gather closely together. You cannot use public park equipment like playgrounds, picnic tables and workout stations.
  • Manufacturing and construction are allowed.
  • Essential trades such as plumbing, sanitation and electrical are allowed.
  • Home-based businesses can operate, so long as you can function 100% from home. You may also travel to acquire supplies to run your business from home.
  • You can leave home to take care of a family member, friend or pet.
  • Taxi, Uber and other transportation services are allowed, so long as the passenger is traveling for an essential purpose.
  • Mail and delivery services can operate.
  • Lawn services can operate, but are limited to removal of grass, weeds and emergency removal of trees. Landscaping work is not allowed.
  • Car dealers may open, but only for the purposes of auto sales related to an essential function or business. Such transactions must be handled by appointment only.
  • Real estate business for existing contracts may take place. New listings and showings are prohibited.
  • Childcare services may remain open, with very strict guidelines.
  • Liquor stores may remain open.
  • Grass, flowers and other plants for decorative purposes cannot be sold. Fruits and vegetables for agricultural purposes may be sold.

The full shelter-in-place order can be read below:


SHELTER IN PLACE ORDER BY THE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF WICHITA FALLS

MARCH 27, 2020

WHEREAS, on March 13, 2020, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency regarding COVID-19; and,

WHEREAS, March 13, 2020, Governor Greg Abbott declared a national emergency regarding COVID-19; and,

WHEREAS, the COVID-19 virus is contagious and spreads through person-to-person contact, especially in group settings; and,

WHEREAS, on March 15, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) recommended that organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States; and,

WHEREAS, on March 16, 2020, President Trump acknowledged the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic, releasing strict new guidelines to limit people’s interactions, including that Americans should avoid groups of more than 10 people; and,

WHEREAS, on March 19, 2020, Governor Abbott issued Executive Order GA 08 Relating to COVID-19 Preparedness and Mitigating, stating people shall avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people and closed all schools until April 3, 2020; and,

WHEREAS, on March 19, 2020, and March 25, 2020, due to the substantial risks to the public, Mayor Santellana issued an order deeming it in the public interest to prohibit anywhere in the City of Wichita Falls, Community Gatherings of more than 10 people; and,

WHEREAS, at his March 22, 2020 press conference, the Governor acknowledged that the urban centers may need to enact more stringent measures to address this public health emergency and stated that he would applaud the cities for doing so; and,

WHEREAS, as of March 25, 2020, there are 974 persons confirmed to have COVID-19 in Texas, with 10 of those residing in Wichita County, Texas;

WHEREAS, because of the risk of the rapid spread of the virus, the need to protect the most vulnerable members of the community, the intent to ensure that the maximum number of people self-isolate in their places of residence to the maximum extent feasible, while enabling essential services to continue, and the desire to slow the spread of COVID19 to the maximum extent possible, this Order is required; and,

WHEREAS, this Order is issued based on evidence of increasing occurrence of COVID-19 within the City and throughout the Central Texas area, scientific evidence and best practices regarding the most effective approaches to slow the transmission of communicable diseases generally and COVID-19 specifically, the evidence that the age, condition, and health of a significant portion of the population of the City places it at risk for serious health complications, including death, from COVID-19; and,

WHEREAS, making the problem worse, some individuals who contract the COVID-19 virus have no symptoms or have mild symptoms, which means they may not be aware they carry the virus; and,

WHEREAS, because even people without symptoms can transmit the disease, and because evidence shows the disease is easily spread, gatherings can result in preventable transmission of the virus; and,

WHEREAS, the scientific evidence shows that at this stage of the emergency, it is essential to slow virus transmission as much as possible to protect the most vulnerable and to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed. One proven way to slow the transmission is to limit interactions among people to the greatest extent practicable. By reducing the spread of the COVID-19 virus, this Order helps preserve critical and limited healthcare capacity in the City; and,

WHEREAS, a declaration of local disaster and public health emergency includes the ability to reduce the possibility of exposure to disease, control the risk, promote health, compel persons to undergo additional health measures that prevent or control the spread of disease, including isolation, surveillance, quarantine, or placement of persons under public health observation; and,

WHEREAS, the Mayor and City Council have determined that extraordinary and immediate measures must be taken to respond quickly to prevent and slow down community spread of COVID-19.

WHEREAS, further restriction of movement of persons is necessary to reduce the substantial risk of harm to the public and, therefore, as long as this Order is in effect, all individuals anywhere in the City of Wichita Falls are required to shelter in place, except to perform certain essential activities, or to perform work in or obtain services from an Essential Business, Essential Government Service, or in Critical Infrastructure.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, MAYOR OF THE CITY OF WICHITA FALLS, ALONG WITH THE WICHITA FALLS CITY COUNCIL, PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORITY VESTED BY TEXAS GOVERNMENT CODE CHAPTER 418, HEREBY FIND, RESOLVE AND ORDER THAT:

SECTION 1. The foregoing recitals are incorporated herein and made findings of fact.

The previously declared local state of disaster for the City of Wichita Falls, Texas, is hereby renewed and continued, as amended herein.

Pursuant to §418.108(b) of the Texas Government Code, this renewal and continuance of the declaration of a local state of disaster shall be given prompt and general publicity and shall be filed promptly with the City Clerk.

Pursuant to §418.108(d) of the Texas Government Code, this renewal and continuance of the declaration of a local state of disaster activates the City’s emergency management plan.

SECTION 2. Stay at Home or Place of Residence. Effective as of 11:59 p.m. on March 27, 2020, and continuing until 1:00 p.m. April 8, 2020, unless terminated or modified by a subsequent Order, the Mayor and the City Council of the City of Wichita Falls, Texas deem it in the public interest to issue this Order and ORDERS that all individuals currently living within the City of Wichita Falls shelter at their place of residence except as allowed by this Order. To the extent individuals are using shared or outdoor spaces, they shall, to the greatest extent feasible, maintain social distancing of at least six feet from any other person, consistent with the Social Distancing Requirements, as defined in Section 7 below. All persons may leave their residences only to perform certain Essential Activities, to perform work in or obtain services from an Essential Business, Essential Government Service, or in Critical Infrastructure, or to engage in Essential Travel or Minimum Basic Operations, all as defined in Section 7 below.

SECTION 3. Non-Essential Business and Operations Must Cease. All businesses or operations with a facility in the City of Wichita Falls, except Essential Businesses and Essential Government Functions, as defined in Section 7 below, are required to cease all activities at facilities located within the City except Minimum Basic Operations as defined in Section 7 below. For clarity, businesses may also continue operations consisting exclusively of employees or contractors performing activities at their own residences (i.e., working from home).

All Essential Businesses, Essential Government Service, and Critical Infrastructure are strongly encouraged to remain open, especially those that provide the basic necessities for food water, and shelter. To the greatest extent feasible, Essential Businesses shall comply with Social Distancing Requirements as defined in Section 7 below.

This Order shall not be construed to hinder the ability of the industries identified in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (“CISA”) Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce Memorandum dated March 19, 2020, incorporated in this Order by reference as Exhibit A, to continue their operation appropriately modified to account for CDC workforce and consumer protection guidance, and the list of industries identified on that memorandum is incorporated in this Order by reference.

SECTION 4. Prohibited Activities. All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single household or dwelling unit are prohibited, except for the limited purposes as expressly permitted by this Order. Nothing in this Order prohibits the gathering of members of a household or dwelling unit.

SECTION 5. Travel. All travel, including, but not limited to, travel on foot, bicycle, scooter, motorcycle, automobile, or public transit, is prohibited except for purposes of Essential Travel, performing Essential Activities or going to work in an Essential Business, Government Facility, or Critical Infrastructure, as defined in Section 7 below. To the greatest extent feasible, people riding on public transit shall comply with Social Distancing Requirements as defined in Section 7 below.

SECTION 6. Prior Order. The findings and recitations set out in the preamble to this Order are found to be true and correct and they are hereby adopted by the Mayor and the City Council and made a part hereof for all purposes. This Order rescinds and replaces prior Orders.

SECTION 7. Definitions and Exemptions.

a. Essential Activities. For purposes of this Order, individuals may leave their residence only to perform any of the following “Essential Activities.” But people at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and people who are sick are urged to stay in their residence to the extent possible, except as necessary to seek medical care.

  • i. For Health and Safety. Individuals may engage in activities or perform tasks essential to their health and safety, or to the health and safety of their family or household members (including, but not limited to, pets), to work for or obtain services at any “Healthcare Operations,” as defined in Section 7.e.i., below;
  • ii. For Necessary Supplies and Services. Individuals may obtain necessary services or supplies for themselves and their family or household members, or to deliver those services or supplies to others, such as, by way of example only and without limitation, groceries and food, including pet supplies and food, supplies they need to work from home, household consumer products, and products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences;
  • iii. For Outdoor Activity. Individuals may engage in outdoor activity, such as, by way of example and without limitation, walking, hiking, bicycling, or running, provided the individuals comply with Social Distancing Requirements as defined in this section. Individuals shall not use public playground equipment, public picnic tables, public basketball courts, and other public sports and recreational equipment;
  • iv. For Certain Types of Work. Individuals may perform work providing essential products and services at an Essential Business, Government Service, or Critical Infrastructure, or to otherwise carry out activities specifically permitted in this Order, including Minimum Basic Operations; or
  • v. To Take Care of Others. Individuals may care for a family member or pet in another household.

b. Critical Infrastructure. As defined in Exhibit B, incorporated in this Order by reference.

c. Essential Government Functions. All sworn Police Department, Fire Department, and Emergency Medical Services personnel, emergency management personnel, and emergency dispatchers; essential court personnel, legal personnel; child protection and child welfare personnel; all military personnel; all personnel working for companies (including their subcontractors) who perform under contract to the Department of Defense providing materials and services to the Department of Defense; all personnel working for companies (including their subcontractors) who perform work under contract to State or Federal Governmental Entities for which they are required under state or federal law to remain open; and all law enforcement personnel, housing and shelter personnel, and others working for or to support Essential Businesses or Critical Infrastructure are categorically exempt from this Order. This Order does not apply to the Federal or State Government.

For purposes of this Order, “Essential Government Functions” means all services needed to ensure the continuing operation of the government agencies and provide for the health, safety and welfare of the public and all agencies that provide for the health, safety and welfare of the public. The City Manager shall determine its Essential Government Functions and identify employees and/or contractors necessary to perform those functions. To the extent feasible, all Essential Governmental Functions shall be performed in compliance with Social Distancing Requirements as defined in this Section.

d. Businesses Covered by this Order. For the purposes of this Order, covered businesses include any for-profit, non-profit, or educational entities, regardless of the nature of the service, the function they perform, or its corporate or entity structure.

e. Essential Businesses. For the purposes of this Order, “Essential Businesses” means:

i. Healthcare Operations. Healthcare Operations and Critical Infrastructure, including but not limited to caregivers, hospital and laboratory personnel, and pharmacy employees, including hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmacies, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, other healthcare facilities, healthcare suppliers, home healthcare services providers, mental health providers, and related retail sales or any related and/or ancillary healthcare services. “Healthcare Operations” also includes veterinary care and all healthcare and life-saving services provided to animals. This shall be construed broadly to avoid any impacts to the delivery of healthcare, broadly defined. “Healthcare Operations” does not include fitness and exercise gyms or other similar facilities and does not include retail outlets that specialize in the selling of electronic cigarette products or cannabidiol products;

ii. Stores that sell Groceries and Certain Other Essential Supplies. Grocery stores, supermarkets, big-box stores, farmers’ markets, food banks, convenience stores, liquor stores and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supplies, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, and any other household consumer products (such as cleaning and personal care products). This includes stores that sell groceries and also sell other non-grocery products, and products necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences. Essential supplies do not include the sale of grasses, plants, flowers or trees, and these items are prohibited from being sold by any business;

iii. Food Cultivation. Food cultivation, including farming livestock, and fishing;

iv. Social Services and Charitable Organizations. Businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals;

v. News Media. Newspapers, television, radio, and other news media services;

vi. Gas Stations and Businesses Needed for Transportation. Gas stations, auto-manufacturing and assembly, auto mechanics, auto supply, auto-repair, and other related facilities;

vii. Financial Institutions. Banks and related financial institutions, consumer lenders, sales and finance lenders, credit unions, appraisers, title companies, pawn shops, entities that issue bonds, insurance companies, underwriters, agents, brokers, and related insurance claims and agents;

viii. Hardware and Supply Stores. Hardware stores and businesses that sell electrical, plumbing, and other material necessary to support Essential Businesses, Critical Infrastructure, and Essential Government Functions;

ix. Critical Trades. Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, pool cleaners, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, essential activities, Essential Businesses, essential Government Functions, or Critical Infrastructure, including but not limited to utilities such as electricity, gas, water and wastewater, and other public works;

x. Mail and Delivery services. Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes; xi. Laundry Services. Laundromats, dry cleaners, and laundry service providers;

xii. Restaurants for Consumption Off-Premises. Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food or alcohol, but only for delivery, drive-through, or carry out. All individuals who obtain food or beverages from these establishments are required to leave the premises of said establishment within five minutes of receiving their food or beverage. Premises of these establishments includes all indoor and outdoor facilities, including parking lots. Individuals shall not consume food or beverages on the premises of any establishment regulated under this subsection. Truck drivers holding CDL licenses and who are operating a semi-tractor-trailer truck for commercial purposes are exempt from the food requirements of this subsection while they are on the premises of any truck stop or travel center. Said truck drivers are limited to eating only in their semi-trucks while on said premises. Schools and other entities that typically provide free food services to students or members of the public may continue to do so under this Order on the condition that the food is provided to students or members of the public on a pickup and take-away basis only. Schools and other entities that provide food services under this exemption shall not permit the food to be eaten at the site where it is provided, or at any other gathering site;

xiii. Supplies to Work from Home. Businesses that supply products needed for people to work from home;

xiv. Supplies for Essential Businesses, Critical Infrastructure and Essential Government Functions. Businesses that supply other Essential Businesses, Critical Infrastructure, and essential Government Functions with the support, supplies, or components necessary to operate, including but not limited to computers, audio and video electronics, microelectronics, semiconductors, hardware, paint, electrical and plumbing material, sanitary equipment, medical equipment, and food and beverages; xv. Food Delivery Services. Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to residences;

xvi. Transportation. Aircraft, taxis, and other private transportation providers (such as Uber and Lyft) that provide transportation services necessary for the performance of essential activities, essential Businesses, Critical Infrastructure, Essential Government Functions, or Essential Travel;

xvii. Home-Based Care and Services. Home-based care for seniors, adults, or children, including caregivers who may travel to provide care;

xviii. Residential Facilities and Shelters. Residential facilities and shelters for seniors, adults, children, and animals; xix. Professional Services. Professional services, such as legal or accounting services, and insurance services when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities or to further Essential Businesses, essential Government functions, or Critical Infrastructure;

xx. Real Estate Services. Real estate services are limited to those necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities or to further Essential Businesses, Essential Government Functions, or Critical Infrastructure. Real Estate companies are allowed to perform property management services and are allowed to finalize closing activities for all real estate contracts in existence as of March 27, 2020. Services do not include accepting new real estate listings or showing any real estate listing.

xxi. Lawn Maintenance Services. Essential lawn maintenance services are limited to the mowing of weeds and grass and to the emergency removal of trees that pose a health and safety hazard.

xxii. Automobile dealerships. Car dealerships may provide repairs and parts services. Car dealers may remain open only for individuals who need to purchase vehicles to perform essential functions and travel and for businesses that need vehicles for essential business and essential government services. Showrooms are to be open to such individuals by appointment only.

xxiii. Information Technology Services. IT and IT services and their essential services vendors, including the provision of essential global, national, and local infrastructure for computing services, business infrastructure, communications, web-based services, and critical manufacturing, as well as telecommunications services, internet access, and broadband/communications services;

xxiv. Moving Supply Services. Businesses that provide rental and/or commercial moving services and necessary moving supplies;

xxv. Hotels and Motels. Hotels and motels, to the extent used for lodging or delivery or carry-out food services;

xxvi. Funeral, mortuary, cremation, burial, cemetery, and related services, provided that social distancing of six feet per person is maintained to the greatest extent possible and no more than ten (10) persons are present during the activity;

xxvii. Educational Institutions. Educational institutions-including public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities-for purposes of facilitating distance learning, performing critical research, or performing other essential functions, provided that social distancing of six-feet per person is maintained to the greatest extent possible; and,

xxviii. Childcare Facilities. Childcare facilities providing services that enable individuals exempted in this Order to work as permitted. To the extent possible, childcare facilities must operate under the following mandatory conditions;

  • i. Childcare must be carried out in stable groups of 10 or fewer (“stable” means that the same 10 or fewer children are in the same group each day);
  • ii. Children shall not change from one group to another;
  • iii. If more than one group of children is cared for at one facility, each group shall be in a separate room. Groups shall not mix with each other.
  • iv. Childcare providers shall remain solely with one group of children.

f. Minimum Basic Operations. For the purposes of this Order, “Minimum Basic Operations” include the following, provided that employees comply with Social Distancing Requirements as defined in this Section, to the extent possible, while carrying out such operations:

  • i. The minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions; or
  • ii. The minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences.

g. Essential Travel. For the purposes of this Order, “Essential Travel” includes travel for any of the following purposes. Individuals engaged in any Essential Travel must comply with all Social Distancing Requirements as defined in this Section.

  • i. Any travel related to the provision of or access to Essential Activities, essential Governmental Functions, Essential Businesses, Critical Infrastructure, or Minimum Basic Operations;
  • ii. Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons;
  • iii. Travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, or any other related services;
  • iv. Travel to retain from or to a place of residence from outside the jurisdiction (e.g., returning home from a closing university);
  • v. Travel required by law enforcement or court order;
  • vi. Travel by church staff/clergy for the purpose of producing of remote delivery of religious services or other ministries requiring travel; or,
  • vii. Travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the City. Individuals are strongly encouraged to verify that their transportation out of the City remains available and functional prior to commencing such travel.

h. Residences. For purposes of this Order, residences include single family homes, multiple family homes, hotels, motels, shared rental units, and similar facilities.

i. Social Distancing Requirements. For purposes of this Order, Social Distancing Requirements include maintain at least a six-foot distance from other individuals, washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer, covering coughs or sneezes (into the sleeve or elbow, not hands), regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces, and not shaking hands.

SECTION 8. Suspension and Modification of Ordinances.

a. Any ordinances or regulations that conflict with this amended proclamation are suspended or modified as necessary to make this amended proclamation effective.

b. Any ordinance or regulation that imposes an obligation upon the City to bring an application, waiver, or variance to the next available meeting required by ordinance to any board or commission is hereby suspended, including but not limited to the following ordinances:

  1. 7220 – Public hearing and notice for a Conditional Use Permit.
  2. 7325 -- Public hearing and notice for a Variance.
  3. 7430 – Public hearing and notice for Administrative Appeals.
  4. 7525 – Public hearing and notice for Zoning Amendments.

c. The following City of Wichita Falls Code of Ordinances are hereby suspended:

  1. Chapter 10, Article III. – Shows, Carnivals and Circuses. Transient show permits shall not be issued.
  2. Chapter 26, Article III. – Solicitors. Solicitation permits shall not be issued.
  3. Chapter 26, Article IV. – Itinerant Merchants. Itinerant merchant permits shall not be issued.
  4. Chapter 14, Article IV, Division 3, Sec. 14-373(b) - (e). – Waiver of requirement to provide proof of rabies vaccination and spay/neuter reclaimed animal.

d. The following are hereby modified:

  1. Chapter 22, Article II, Sec. 22-27. – Changes, Section 109.1 Payment of fees shall be modified as follows: a. The building official shall have the authority to issue a permit without fee and issue an invoice for said permit to be paid at a later date.
  2. Chapter 58, Article IV, Sec. 58-138(c)(1) shall be modified as follows: a. A manager of operations of a public or semi-public aquatic facility shall obtain certification from the regulatory authority. A manager of operations may obtain certification if a manager of operations has successfully completed a training course conducted by the regulatory authority in the preceding three years.

SECTION 9. Failure to Comply. Failure to comply with any of the provisions of this Order constitutes an imminent threat to public health.

SECTION 10. Enforcement. The Wichita Falls Police Department, Wichita County Sheriff’s Office, the Wichita Falls Fire Marshal’s Office, and other Texas peace officers, are hereby authorized to enforce this order. A violation of this order may be punishable through criminal or civil enforcement. A violation of this order shall be a misdemeanor and the penalty for violating this order shall be a fine of not less than one dollar ($1.00) and no more than one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) or confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days, as authorized by Texas Government Code 418.173.

SECTION 11. Legal Remedy. Any violation of this resolution can be enjoined by a suit filed in the name of the City of Wichita Falls in a court of competent jurisdiction, and this remedy shall be in addition to any penal provision in this Order or in the Code of Ordinances, City of Wichita Falls, Texas.

SECTION 12. Posting of this Order. The Wichita Falls/Wichita County Public Health District will post this Order on its website.

SECTION 13. Savings Clause. If any provision of this Order or its application to any person or circumstance is held by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid or unconstitutional, then the remainder of the Order, including the application of such part or provision to other persons or circumstances, shall not be affected and shall continue in full force and effect. To this end, the provisions of this Order are severable.

ORDERED this the 27th day of March, 2020, in the City of Wichita Falls, Wichita County, Texas, in witness whereof I subscribe my name and cause to be affixed the seal of the City of Wichita Falls.

________________________________

Stephen Santellana,

Mayor City of Wichita Falls

Filed with me, the City Clerk of the City of Wichita Falls, this 27th day of March, 2020, by Mayor Stephen Santellana, whose signature I hereby attest under my hand and the seal of the City of Wichita Falls.

________________________________

Marie Balthrop,

City Clerk City of Wichita Falls


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