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Mission discusses COVID guidelines, implements curfew for city residents

Non-essential workers in Mission should be home by midnight, according to the Mission city council.

This week, they met to discuss several items, including the current city of Mission guidelines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Coronavirus cases continue throughout the country – particularly Texas, which has experienced over 21,000 deaths and 1.18 million total positive tests.

City Manager Randy Perez presented the item to council, starting with a request for an event submitted to the city. Perez said the current order designates any outdoor events of ten or more people to be approved by either the county judge or mayor.

Perez said an event request was submitted from an owner of a property on Ragland and Bus. 83. He said they own a daycare, but the property has been rezoned from commercial to an R1T townhome.

“He wants to rent this particular location for a market type of venue,” Perez said. “But one of the things being requested is for it to be every weekend, starting this coming weekend. So it would be every Friday and Saturday.”

Perez reminded the council after presenting that this is not zoned as a commercial property, and said he wanted to bring it up for consideration, but that they wanted to do it every weekend as an “indoor market type of area.” The owner would rent spaces for individuals to come out in a market setting.

Mayor Armando O’caña said in his meetings with the owner, they never mentioned it would be an indoor market, and that it was set up for an outdoor event. The owner submitted several dates for approval: Nov. 28 and 29, Dec. 5 and 6, Dec. 12 and 13, Dec. 19 and 20, Dec. 26 and 27, Jan. 2 and 3, Jan. 9 and 10 Jan. 16 and 17, Jan. 23 and 24 and Jan. 30 and 31.

City leaders and staff clarified the event would be outdoors.

“Due to COVID, we’ve even cancelled some of our events as a city,” City Council Member Ruben Plata said. “So I would want to be careful to approve anything where you’re trying to gather more than ten people, so I would like to get more information to make a more educated decision on this matter.”

Council said they would consider the event, but the owner would have to submit a site plan, rental spaces, an idea for parking and a strategy for limiting attendees from all shopping at once before returning for approval prior to each weekend/individual event before a city permit would be issued.

Generally, the current guidelines in place by the city of Mission include facilities being open by appointment only, requiring everyone entering a city facility to wear a face mask, doing a temperature check at the front and providing curbside services for all utility billing, library and museum. Mission has also been issuing birth and death certificates through the window in front of the building, so citizens don’t need to enter the building.

Playground equipment is still closed at parks, but restroom facilities are open. The Mission Tennis Center is open, and park restrooms are sanitized several times a day according to Perez. City council member Norie Gonzalez Garza asked if a mandatory mask mandate was standing for public spaces, which Perez confirmed.

The mayor and council also discussed implementing a city-wide curfew for residents, from the hours of 12 a.m. through 5:30 a.m. Perez said a curfew was not currently in place due to state and county orders.

O’caña said that they can implement specific orders just for the city of Mission.

“We can communicate to the public that non-essential persons should go to bed by 12 midnight,” O’caña said. “When we started with COVID-19, it was only the 60 and older, but now even infants are being affected, and families are being affected. Masks are mandatory in public spaces in the city of Mission.”

Perez said they have also been issuing permits for “quite a few” garage sales since that restriction was lifted, and have had employees go out and enforce facial coverings.

“We have had some garage sales shut down because of noncompliance,” Perez said. “In the month of October we issued about 280 garage sale permits, and in November we’re at 183 already, so that’s another consideration.”

O’caña asked that they include garage sales be shut down for at least a month, because he has driven through Mission and seen people leaving garage sales with no sign that they were wearing a mask.

“I don’t want to just stop there and let them know, but I think we need to suspend them through the end of the year,” O’caña said. “People need to understand that when we give them an opportunity for them to open up, we want them to adhere to CDC [Centers for Disease Control] guidelines – it’s a life-saving measure. That’s all we’re asking.”

The new guidelines and orders will be effective starting Dec. 1 and run through to the first city council meeting to be held in January before bringing it back to council for consideration. On Dec. 1 city council will also have a joint meeting with the Texas Citrus Fiesta via Zoom, as most pending events in Mission in Dec. and Jan. have to do with TCF.

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