San Antonio officials are imposing a four-day curfew over the Thanksgiving weekend in an effort to slow a steep rise in new coronavirus cases.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff issued matching orders Wednesday setting a curfew barring people from gathering socially from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. starting Thursday and ending Monday morning.

The curfew does not apply to businesses, except restaurant dine-in service. Nirenberg said the measure is meant to stop the virus’s spread among friends and relatives in close proximity spaces where masks aren’t required.

“The spread is happening through these unregulated behaviors where people are congregating,” Nirenberg said. “That’s where we’re going to see a real problem and where it’s going to show up in our hospitals two weeks from now.”

The order comes as the number of cases rose by 1,032 Wednesday, with another six deaths, bringing the death toll to 1,343. Officials reported 543 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, 175 in intensive care, and 88 on ventilators.

Reported Bexar County Deaths

  • Hispanic female, in her 70s, hospitalized at Mission Trail Baptist Hospital.
  • Hispanic female, 40s, died at residence and reported via death certificate.
  • White male, 70s, died at residence and reported via death certificate.
  • White male, 80s, hospitalized at Northeast Baptist Hospital.
  • Hispanic female, 90s, hospitalized at Metropolitan Methodist Hospital.
  • Hispanic male, 60s, reported by the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office.

The curfew order applies to gatherings of people outside of an individual’s household but doesn’t apply to people patronizing businesses. It doesn’t require businesses to close, though it does require restaurants to close dine-in services after 10 p.m. and only offer take-out or curbside service. Violations are punishable by a fine of up to $1,000.

“We set that 10 o’clock because we wanted people who are going to go eat to be able to finish their meal,” Wolff said. “I don’t think it’s going to be a great burden on the restaurants to be able to do that.”

San Antonio’s curfew order mirrors those issued Tuesday by El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego. After a Texas appeals court judge blocked an early version that also closed some businesses, Samaniego adjusted his order following what he called a “favorable” discussion with the Texas governor and attorney general’s offices.

“One of the things they were able to work out with the governor was this kind of curfew,” Nirenberg said during a coronavirus update Wednesday. “We’re using a model that the governor has encouraged, and we’re doing it at a time where I think we can get in front of getting overwhelmed in our hospitals.”

Brendan Gibbons is a former senior reporter at the San Antonio Report. He is an environmental journalist for Oil & Gas Watch.