Public parks restrictions and limitations

Del Rio City Council members on Monday extended the city’s declaration of public health emergency.

The council passed the ordinance amending the local disaster declaration on a 5-2 vote, with Councilman Jim DeReus and Councilman Raul C. Ojeda voting against the measure. Mayor Bruno “Ralphy” Lozano, Councilwoman Diana Bejarano Salgado, Councilwoman Liz Elizalde De Calderon, Councilman Rowland Garza and Councilman Alfredo “Fred” Carranza Jr. voted in favor.

The new ordinance is in effect until Tuesday, May 26.

Copies of the ordinance and its attachments are on file in the city secretary’s office.

The ordinance amending the declaration “prohibits door to door sales for 24 hours per day, each day.”

“Any sales performed at homes shall only be performed by the expressed prior invitation or prior consent of the person residing on the premises,” the ordinance reads.

The ordinance also “prohibits swimming, bathing or wading in any pool, water or waterway in city parks at any time.”

The portion of the ordinance dealing with swimming in city parks notes the city’s existing code of ordinances, “which limits swimming, bathing or wading in any pool, waters or waterways of city parks to only those designated areas,” was amended for the duration of the declaration to prohibit swimming, bathing and wading entirely.

The amended ordinance also prohibits any activity in city parks other than “walking, jogging, hiking and biking.”

Trails and sidewalks are open in city parks for those physical activities from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Existing city ordinances set the curfew in parks and “prohibits any person in the parks between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.” The amended ordinance extends that curfew to 24 hours a day, other than the two time periods allowed for physical activity.

The document approved by the council Monday also includes two attachments, a checklist outlining health protocols for all individuals disseminated by the Texas Department of State Health Services, and a checklist giving special guidance for those over 65.

At the end of a discussion about the ordinance, Mayor Bruno “Ralphy” Lozano made a motion to approve the ordinance, adding the two exhibits, with Councilwoman Diana Bejarano Salgado giving the second.

DeReus then made a motion to remove that portion of the declaration prohibiting the use of the creek, but no one gave a second to his motion.

Earlier in the discussion, DeReus noted he believed going to the creek “is probably less dangerous than going to Walmart or H-E-B.”

The council approved Lozano’s motion without further discussion.

Ojeda said voted against the motion to approve the ordinance to support DeReus and his viewpoints.

“I agreed that the time period to allow people in the parks could have gone from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m., because people have different times to work out, as Councilman DeReus pointed out, and I also wanted to support his viewpoint that there is some evidence that sunlight kills the coronavirus,” Ojeda said in a telephone interview after the meeting.

DeReus said after the meeting that “allowing people to get into the water in the open air and sunshine seemed like a reasonable loosening of the restrictions.”

“Of the restrictions that don’t make sense to me – and there have been some – that was definitely one of them. I don’t have a problem keeping the swimming pools closed, especially given the proximity to other people you would find there and because we don’t know if the coronavirus is susceptible to chlorine treatments used at the pool,” DeReus said in a telephone interview after the meeting.

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