The City of San Antonio has received 86 phone calls reporting businesses still open or public gatherings in violation of local and state orders aimed at stemming the coronavirus pandemic, according to the San Antonio Police Department.
“A majority of those calls were related to gathering places of more than 10 people,” SAPD Sgt. Michelle Ramos said in an email to the Rivard Report. “Businesses have been compliant in [their] interactions with officers, and officers have not issued any citations to date.”
On Saturday, SAPD responded to 32 phone calls and found 25 violations, according to an email City Manager Erik Walsh sent to City Council and City executives on Sunday.
Two Northside self-defense and fitness gyms have had two violations, he said.
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Citations are considered a Class C misdemeanor and carry a fine of up to $2,000.
“Each incident is handled on a case-by-case basis, and officers use their discretion in issuing citations,” Ramos said. “Officers will continue to respond to calls for service and monitor these businesses that have been affected by the mayor’s declaration.”
One of the gyms, The P.I.T. (Physical Intense Training), posted on Facebook last week that a “snitch” called the police to report its operations. On Monday afternoon, there appeared to be more than 20 people gathered at the outdoor gym.
“Told y’all we would be open as long as possible,” the post reads. The gym tried to move its operations outdoors and limited the space to 10 customers at a time, but the order calls for all gyms to close.
The City has instructed The P.I.T. to close, the owner confirmed, and it will do so at 5 p.m. today.
The City of San Antonio, Bexar County, and the State of Texas have declared public health emergencies this month that come with orders to close lounges, nightclubs, taverns, private clubs, gyms or health studios, indoor commercial amusement businesses, bowling alleys, bingo parlors, and theaters. Restaurants and most bars are closed to the public, but the order allows curbside pickup and delivery of food and alcohol.
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“What part of all-gyms-are-closed do these knuckleheads not understand?” Councilman Manny Pelaez (D8) said. “For a business that claims to be dedicated to fitness, they are putting the fitness of their customers, employees, and everyone else in San Antonio in peril by flouting the law. And make no mistake about it – emergency business closures are the law, and we’ll do what we need to do to enforce the law.”
Bexar County, the City, and the State of Texas each have separate, overlapping orders with different expiration dates. Last week, City Council extended its order through April 18 that closed bars and limited restaurants to delivery or takeout and that prohibited gatherings of more than 10 people. The County and State extended their orders through April 3.
The City and County’s new Stay Home, Work Safe Orders will be considered by elected officials this week and are expected to be extended through April 9.
The Bexar County Sheriff’s Department received only one tip regarding a possible violation outside the City of San Antonio’s boundaries, a spokeswoman said. That information has been passed on to deputies.
City residents are asked to call SAPD’s non-emergency line, 210-207-SAPD, if they see a violation of the order.