In the hours after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott banned social gatherings of more than 10 people and forced restaurants to close dine-in options, local law enforcement wasn’t quite sure who was in charge of enforcing the new rules.

“Waiting on the legal department,” said John Griffith, spokesman for the League City Police Department, in response to that question.

The League City council will meet in some form or fashion Tuesday evening and, among other items, will address exactly that question, Mayor Pat Hallisey said.

“I was talking with John Baumgartner and our attorney late last night about what the governor said,” Hallisey said. “I asked them if the Texas Rangers were coming to enforce it and was told no.”

Baumgartner is city manager for League City.

An item on the meeting’s supplemental agenda calls for the council to consider extending a disaster declaration, adopting an emergency operations plan and instituting a penalty for anyone who violates social distancing orders, documents show.

Violators will face a $1,000 fine, Hallisey said.

“It’s important to me that people understand we aren’t sending police to wrestle people out of all gyms and bars, but that if someone doesn’t listen to the governor’s order and meets in large groups, there’s going to be a penalty,” Hallisey said. “This is just to formalize that, so people know that.”

City administrators as of deadline Friday were planning to have the council meet but were working out a way for residents to send in public comments so they wouldn’t have to congregate in person, said Sarah Greer Osborne, spokeswoman for the city.

Matt deGrood: 409-683-5230; matt.degrood@galvnews.com


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(3) comments

Bailey Jones

I hope they define "social distancing". Is that 6 people in line at HEB? 11 people on a soccer field? Two cops in one cop car?

Wayne D Holt

Bailey, right now 10 total strangers can huddle around a picnic table indoors or out and it's legal. Four friends eating lunch outside at a sidewalk table service restaurant is illegal. Does that make sense?

If GPD thought the bicycle safe distance ordinance was unenforceable this is going to be that on steroids. Sunshine (ultraviolet light), fresh air, and salty breezes all help control this virus' spread. Get people served outside in groups of eight or less and we will have fulfilled the letter of the law while keeping businesses open and employees on the payroll.

John Dupla

The idea of imposing finds on "social gatherings" raises concerns that go beyond controlling a virus. Questions include: is it legal? What number of people does it apply to? How can everybody be informed? The list goes on. My concerns: does this violate our Consitutional rights of assembly and can it be extended during political campaigns? Will it have an "end date"? Since the city makes money on traffic and other violations, is this another way to collect money? Since LC allows code enforcement and animal control personnel to write tickets for city ordinance infractions, will they do the same for "unlawful" gatherings? What ever happened to "move along, there's nothing here to see" warnings? Just believe LC city council is a control freak on steroids.

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