Local leaders in Texas depending on community to enforce coronavirus regulations

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AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Local leaders are depending on members of the community to enforce COVID-19 regulations set by the federal, state and local governments.

While many local governments have fines and punishments in place, they do not have the capacity to fully enforce them.

“We obviously don’t have the capacity to be able to enforce something like this through jail time and fines. This has got to be something that our community decides is important enough to do. We have to police ourselves,” Mayor Steve Adler explained on Wednesday during a video conference with the Texas Tribune.

Governor Greg Abbott issued several executive orders last week, and several cities across Texas have now issued stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders.

One of the governor’s executive orders was not to gather in groups of more than 10 people.

Some Texans, however, believe this rule, and the CDC’s rule to stand six feet apart, should not apply to outdoor public places.

“In this setting, I don’t see any problem with this. Maybe with like enclosed indoor settings, I can see that issue. And people aren’t following that, but they kind of have to but out here, I think it’s okay,” Austin resident Leticia Guerrero said Wednesday while visiting Barton Creek.

On Tuesday, Barton Creek was full, with well over 50 people crowding the public park. But at midnight, a shelter-in-place order went into effect, so Wednesday, it was not as crowded.

Still, people seemed to be encroaching on the six-foot social distancing rule.

“It’s just human nature…you want to be next to someone, especially if you want to speak to someone, get to know somebody,” Austin resident Rebekah Jones said, although she added she did not approve of people gathering in groups of more than 10.

Guerrero, however, did not see the problem in people gathering at Barton Creek in a large group the day before.

“Honestly, I don’t see anything wrong with it… I don’t, but that’s a personal preference,” Guerrero said.

While Governor Abbott has not ordered a statewide shelter-in-place, he said yesterday he will continue to evaluate how people are complying going forward.

The governor’s current executive orders are in place until at least April 3.

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