Comal County officials said they are considering but have not formalized additional actions following stricter state and city measures announced Friday to curb the spread of COVID-19.
County Judge Sherman Krause said the county will enforce the orders announced by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott — along with additional mandates the county will have for parks, boat ramps and unincorporated areas ahead of the July Fourth holiday weekend.
Before a conference call with city mayors Friday afternoon, Krause said he hadn’t seen the statement issued by the city of New Braunfels, which immediately closed its parks and river operations within its boundaries.
Krause said the county was waiting to hear the latest from Abbott, who issued several orders this week and curtailed the state’s reopening after the recent uptick of thousands of COVID-19 cases throughout Texas.
“We’ve been seeing the increase in cases not only in the county but statewide,” Krause said. “We expected the governor to take some sort of action — we’ve been waiting to see what it would be.”
Krause called the governor’s actions “appropriate” in light of the spike in cases.
“While I don’t have any information from epidemiologists that suggest where this transmission is coming from, areas like bars, river and rafting and outfitters, where a lot of folks who are not in your household are in close contact with each other, is where you would expect the spread to happen,” he said.
Krause said the county will issue more on its measures by Monday.
“We are considering some closures for the July Fourth weekend, and we will make decisions on those on Monday,” he said.
Asked if those included actual enforcement, instead of the educational guidance recommending the use of protective face coverings and social distancing, Krause said the law would be enforced.
“If they’re closures, they’re closures,” he said. “We would expect there would be no action allowed. This isn’t guidance — we’re not suggesting closures, they will be closed.”
Last Easter the county closed Canyon Lake boat ramps and the city closed parks. Law enforcement agencies for both issued no tickets and very few warnings to those – residents and visitors alike – seen violating parks closures and social distancing rules.
Asked whether people should believe the county will be serious this time, Krause pledged enforcement but offered few details.
“The governor’s orders include penalties for non-compliance — we can enforce those,” Krause said. “If we issue any orders we would include those same penalties. So, yes, if those things mandated are being violated, we would be issuing penalties.”
Criminal or civil?
“Both, as far as the governor’s orders go,” Krause said.
On Wednesday, the city ordered the use of face coverings at businesses operating within city limits, though the order said no civil or criminal penalty would be imposed on those failing to do so. That measure goes into effect Monday, with the city indicating its prime goal of educating the public and seeking voluntary compliance.
While the county plans to have additional officers at parks and Canyon Lake boat ramps over the holiday weekend, it hasn’t gone as far as the U.S. Corps of Engineers, which earlier this week announced the closures of park areas and boat ramps it controls along the venue.