Mark McLaughlin

Kingsville City Manager Mark McLaughlin attends a city commission meeting on Jan. 27, 2020.

The City of Kingsville has replaced a Mayoral Declaration made Tuesday afternoon with a new declaration Wednesday morning, outlining what local businesses should do to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The declaration revises Section 6 of Tuesday's signed declaration, which previously stated a limit of gatherings to no more than 50 people and mandated the cancellation of any gatherings with 50 or more people until further notice.

This morning, Kingsville Mayor Sam Fugate signed the revised declaration, which “places the responsibility on controlling public gatherings on the business or venue owner to comply with CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) guidance to the fullest extent possible, as that guidance exists now and is amended hereafter.”

City Manager Mark McLaughlin said in a phone interview on Wednesday that the language was changed to allow business owners, venue owners and other entities “to help with the squashing of the virus by complying with the CDC guidelines.”

“We think it’s a better way to word it, and that way when things change we don’t have to change the emergency declaration,” McLaughlin said.

According to the current guidance released by the CDC on Sunday, all gatherings of 50 or more people, including festivals, weddings, parades, sporting evens and other types of assemblies, should be canceled or postponed for the next eight weeks.

Any persons found in violation of the declaration issued Wednesday commits an offense punishable by a fine up to $1,000 or confinement in jail for a term that does not exceed 180 days.

Kingsville Police Chief Ricardo Torres said the Kingsville Police Department will “work with calm minds” regarding to the declaration, and work with businesses to ensure the order is followed.

“We’re going to use common sense,” Torres said. “If we see more than 50 people (in a venue) we’ll request that they go ahead and let some people out. Our job is not to add to the hysteria and just go around arresting people. Our thing is to try to assist in making sure that the health and welfare of all of our citizens is kept.”

The declaration has taken effect immediately, and will run for a total of seven days, “unless continued or renewed by the City Commission of the City of Kingsville, Texas.”

City Attorney Courtney Alvarez said in an e-mail Wednesday morning the declaration is going to be considered for extension by the Kingsville City Commission at their regular meeting on March 23 at 5 p.m.

Kleberg County commissioners Tuesday afternoon revised an earlier resolution limiting public gatherings to less than 50 people, including at grocery stores. The revision excludes grocery stores from that resolution, so they are not subject to the 50-person limit.

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