The City of Richardson has received several calls asking for clarification on why “shelter in place” orders were approved through April 30, 2020 in its most recently adopted Declaration of Disaster for a Local Health Emergency approved by the City Council Monday, March 23, 2020.
The most important thing to know about the adoption of the April 30 date in the Declaration is the approval by the City Council was a procedural matter meant to avoid constant weekly re-approvals by the Mayor to continue the Disaster Declaration. The Mayor is only allowed to approve emergency declarations for up to seven days, at which time it can be extended by the City Council, re-issued by the Mayor, or allowed to expire.
The action by the Council allows further time for the orders in the Disaster Declaration to stay in place without re-approvals, and also allows for the orders to be rescinded prior to April 30, 2020 if conditions should change. The adoption of the orders was made due to recent spikes in infections in the North Texas area.
City of Richardson “shelter in place” orders are meant to compel residents to stay in their homes and limit movement to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. People can leave their house for “essential activities,” which include getting medical supplies, going to the doctor or getting supplies needed to adequately work from home. They can also go out to get groceries.
Those whose work is considered “essential” are also permitted to leave the house to continue their work. Essential businesses include health care facilities, grocery stores and other food markets, banks, media services, hardware stores, laundromats and delivery services, among others (see www.cor.net/Coronavirus for further clarification on “essential businesses”).
People can also go out to run, walk or hike as long as they maintain the requirements of social distancing and stay at least six feet away from other individuals. Further clarification on “shelter in place”:
- Richardson residents must stay in their residence unless they are:
- Leaving to perform tasks essential to their health and safety or the health and safety of family members (for example obtaining medical supplies or going to the doctor),
- Leaving to obtain necessary services or supplies for their household or to deliver them to someone else (for example picking up food, pet supplies or other household consumer products),
- Engaging in an outdoor activity, during which time social distancing including remaining at least 6 feet from other people must be practiced (for example walking, biking or running),
- Working at an essential business,
- Caring for a family or pet in another household,
- All public or private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single household are prohibited.
- If someone in a household tests positive for coronavirus, the household is ordered to isolate at home in accordance with CDC guidelines.
- Religious and worship services may only be provided by video and teleconference.
- A limit on the purchase of toilet paper has been established. Residents may purchase only 12 rolls, or one package, whichever is greater, at a time.
- All elective medical, surgical and dental procedures are prohibited.
Restrictions similar to those in Richardson have been enacted in other parts of North Texas.
Why Actions are Being Taken
Efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 are focused on “flattening the curve,” or slowing the spread of the virus so that medical facilities are not overwhelmed. To do this, people are asked to practice social distancing and proper hygiene.
- Social distancing means:
- Maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet between yourself and others,
- Avoiding congregating with other people,
- Avoiding unnecessary physical contact.
- Proper hygiene includes:
- Not touching your face,
- Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue,
- Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds,
- If soap and water are not available, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
The declaration is effective until April 30, 2020 or unless superseded, canceled, modified, amended or terminated by the Mayor and/or the City Council.
(All updates can be found on the City of Richardson’s COVID-19 news page at www.cor.net/coronavirus.)