GOLIAD – As the number of COVID-19 cases increases here, the mayor is now requiring all city residents to wear a mask in public.
On April 15, Mayor Trudia Preston issued this new order, that was later revised on April 17, implementing a 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew in the city. This curfew does not restrict those traveling through town or performing essential business.
This order additionally requires city residents to shelter in place.
“The mayor hereby authorizes the city’s Code Enforcement officer to assist the fire chief/Fire Marshal’s Office and other peace officers in enforcement of such declaration, ordinance, order or proclamation as issued by the mayor or the city council,” according to a news release from the city April 15.
Later that evening, the sheriff’s office issued a statement saying, “The Goliad County Sheriff’s Office will not enforce this order.
“The mayor of Goliad has directed the city code enforcement officer to enforce this order.”
Trudia said that while the city’s code enforcement officer is not a peace officer, he does have the authority to cite those violating the mayor’s ordinance.
“He is not a licensed peace officer,” she said. “He is an officer of the municipal court.
“I don’t see us handing out any tickets, though.”
Her goal with the stronger ordinance is compliance to stop the further spread of this latest coronavirus.
County Judge Mike Bennett, in a statement to the public, asked that the mayor to rethink this order.
“I hope the mayor will look at this again and retract this order,” Bennett said. “Goliad County will not be a part of this nor will we try to enforce this.”
Bennett said that this strikes at the heart of the freedoms residents are use to having.
“We as Texans, Americans, we are use to having our freedoms,” Bennett said.
“We are not use to being told when we can leave our house. It is not a good situation.”
He voiced opposition to the curfew, which was initially a request, but now a requirement of residents.
“Curfews are put in place most of the time after a natural disaster — if you have to leave because there is no electricity or your home has been destroyed,” Bennett said. “It is to keep looting down and protect personal property.”
The county judge reiterated that he would not be issuing an order along its lines.
“My hope is you will continue your good practices to stay well,” Bennett said to the county residents. “The only restriction I have imposed is limiting access to the courthouse to keep our employees healthy.”
The mayor’s decision to strengthen her order last week came because she said people were not taking this pandemic seriously.
“People aren’t doing what they are supposed to do to protect themselves and the people around them,” she said.
The city now has two cases of COVID-19.
“The reason I did this was our last victim here in Goliad contracted it somewhere in the county or city,” she said. “My guess is they got it somewhere in the city.”
Her hope is that this new order will get people to comply, although she admits that anyone being given a ticket is unlikely.
“One way we can help stop the spread of it in Goliad is to wear a face covering,” she said.
Motorists are not required to wear masks while driving through the city.
“It is just when you go into a grocery store, a convenience store or the post office,” she cited as examples.
“I don’t know why it is such a problem at this point. I felt it was time we stepped it up a bit.”
Regarding the curfew — this is her effort to stop some of the recent crimes occurring during the nighttime hours.
“We have had a lot of burglaries and a lot of mischievous things in the last two weeks,” Preston said.
Preston said the opposition to this order by county officials was unwarranted.
“As adults and elected officials in the city and county, under these circumstances, which I feel is an emergency, why cannot we come together for the good of the community?” she asked.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Goliad Advance-Guard and can be reached at 361-343-5221, or at editor@mySouTex.com.