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More than 200 inspections were performed by various City of San Antonio departments over the long holiday weekend that started last Thursday on Thanksgiving. During that time, no citations were issued for violating the 10 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew that Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff issued for the weekend in response to the recent increase in coronavirus cases.
“The goal of the curfew was to limit the ongoing spread of the virus,” Nirenberg said Monday during his daily COVID-19 update with Wolff. A coronavirus infection can develop as many as 14 days after a person was exposed to the virus, he noted, so “we will know whether or not [the curfew] was effective in a couple of weeks.”
Health officials expect an increase of COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks, but Wolff said he was optimistic that most residents complied with pandemic health guidance.
“Nothing like this works unless you have support of the people, and I think we had tremendous support over the Thanksgiving weekend,” Wolff said.
Roughly 60 demonstrators gathered in Alamo Plaza on Friday and Saturday nights to protest the curfew after 10 p.m., but a San Antonio Police Department spokesman said free speech activity was exempt from the order.
“Then they had a little parade close to where the mayor and I live, honking their horns – about 35 [vehicles] – but they were in their cars and trucks, so that was no danger,” Wolff said. “Certainly they have a right to do that.”
One citation – up to $1,000 – was issued over the long weekend and occurred on Friday night at Ojos Locos Sports Cantina in Northwest San Antonio for failure to display the required health and safety signage for customers. All businesses “must create a Health and Safety Policy that requires employees and customers [to] wear face coverings if they cannot maintain physical distancing,” according to the City-County order.
The bar was closing sometime after 10:30 p.m., and no customers were inside, according to enforcement data provided by the City.
Multiple calls to the City and SAPD were fielded regarding another location, The Deuce Bar on the far North Side in connection to possible violations of the curfew, mask requirements, and social distancing restrictions.
More than 100 people were reportedly inside, but the owner “stated he was having a private, invitation-only event which was in compliance with the curfew order” and was issued a warning to maintain COVID-19 guidelines.
Nirenberg said he did not expect to implement another curfew during coming holidays including Christmas and New Year’s Day, “but we’ll make decisions as they come. This was a very targeted approach to limit the social gatherings that would have accelerated the kind of transmission that we were seeing going into the holiday weekend.”
Bexar County reported 1,117 new coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the total to 81,174 since the pandemic began. The seven-day moving average is now 832.
“For context, the daily average was nearly 200 at the start of the month, so it has increased steadily as the transmission has increased in the community,” Nirenberg said.
Hospitalizations as well as the use of intensive care units and ventilators continue to increase. The positivity rate decreased by 0.8 percent since last week to 9.2 percent but remains in the “severe” category.
As a result, Bexar County Health Authority Dr. Junda Woo issued a health directive to curb the spread of COVID-19 on Monday which recommends against dining at restaurants and gathering indoors with people outside one’s household. Violations of such directives are not enforceable with fines or jail time.
“As the cold weather approaches, and in the wake of Thanksgiving gatherings, we are expecting our case numbers to climb through the end of the year. This is a critical month,” Woo said in a news release. “We are asking people to be more selective about how they dine and how they gather with others until we’re on the other side of this surge. When you have to be around others, try to bring in fresh air by opening a window or increasing ventilation. Bundle up, mask up, and stay safe.”
More COVID-19 information and holiday recommendations are available at covid19.sanatnonio.gov.