As Memorial Day weekend starts, businesses must remain vigilant about following public health measures to prevent coronavirus transmission, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said Friday.

“We are going into a holiday weekend, but do not let your guard down,” he said. “We want to continue to protect the health and safety of our neighbors, our loved ones, and ultimately our economy. So do what you can to continue to mind the public health guidance, and we will all be better for it.”

The San Antonio Police Department will be monitoring businesses’ activity over the weekend and responding to violations of the City’s emergency order, Nirenberg said. SAPD and the City’s Code Enforcement already visited Cowboys Dancehall after photos circulated on the internet of people lining up to get into the club after it opened at 12:01 a.m. Friday.

“We’ll be out there tonight to make sure that’s sunk in with everybody,” Nirenberg said.

Though the City and County cannot penalize people for not wearing masks, Gov. Greg Abbott did not leave local entities entirely without methods to discipline businesses, the mayor said.

“The governor has laid out some pretty specific standards that businesses have to show ‘good faith’ living up to,” he said. “And if there’s not a good-faith effort to comply with those social distancing guidelines as laid out by the State, those can be enforced and we can take actions to shut a business down if they are going to make it bad for everybody.”

Most bars and restaurants are doing their best to adhere to public health guidelines, including social distancing, Nirenberg said.

“We have to now make sure that the customers are hearing the message that, ‘If we want to enjoy these venues, we’ve got to do our part, too,’” he said.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff also warned business owners of their liability should a customer get sick from visiting their establishments.

“There’s always a lawyer working in the background for a good lawsuit against them,” Wolff said.

On Friday, 21 more people tested positive for the new coronavirus, Nirenberg said, bringing Bexar County’s total case count to 2,392. There are 73 people currently hospitalized for COVID-19, 41 of which are in intensive care and 21 on ventilators. 

Two more deaths were reported Friday, Nirenberg said. Both were former residents of area nursing homes – a woman in her 80s who lived at Advanced Rehabilitation and Healthcare of Live Oak, and a man in his 70s who lived at the Pecan Valley Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center. 

Universal testing at nursing homes continued Friday, and 36 of 65 have completed testing their residents and staff, Nirenberg said. The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District and San Antonio Fire Department’s Mobile Integrated Healthcare (MIH) program are working together to test all 65 nursing homes in the area. 

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Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.