San Antonio Health officials issue new directive against indoor dining and gatherings

SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) – Metro Health officials have issued a health directive for San Antonio and Bexar County residents which recommends against indoor dining and gatherings with people you don’t live with.

Dr. Anita Kurian with Metro Health says the more people you congregate with indoors, the greater the risk of spreading COVID-19.

“Respiratory droplets which spread COVID-19, occasionally travel beyond 9 feet,” Kurian said at Monday evening’s briefing. “While wearing a mask mitigates the risk, it is not possible to wear a mask while eating or drinking, so restaurants can help by switching  from indoor dining to exclusively outdoor dining and takeout services.”

The health directive also strongly recommends that you avoid being indoors with others while yelling, singing and exercising, which increase the risk of becoming infected with the virus.

With cold weather upon us and in the wake of Thanksgiving gatherings, local health officials are expecting COVID-19 cases to continue to climb through the end of the year.   When you have to be around others, they suggest you let in fresh air by opening a window or increasing ventilation.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg said he was pleased that the vast majority seemed to comply with the Thanksgiving curfew prohibiting social gatherings between 10 pm and 5 a.m. Thursday night through Monday morning.  While saying he doesn’t anticipate imposing another curfew during the Christmas holidays, the mayor didn’t totally rule out the possibility.

“I don’t expect we will, but we’ll make decisions as they come,” said Nirenberg. “I don’t expect we will, primarily because this was a very targeted approach to limit the social gatherings that would have accelerated the kind of transmission that we were seeing going into the holiday weekend.”

Protesters who gathered at the Alamo this past weekend claimed the curfew was unconstitutional, but Wolff said Governor Greg Abbott knew about the directive, which included a $1,000 fine for violators and “‘he didn’t think we overstepped our bounds.”

He said protesters also “held a little parade close to where the mayor and I live.”  Wolff said they were  honking their horns, but they remained in their vehicles.

Bexar County Sheriff’s Deputies checked numerous establishments for possible violations.

“But they only found five, and they were in the process of closing down, so it turned out not to be a problem,” Wolff said.

Nirenberg reported 1,117 new COVID-19 cases Monday evening, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 81,171.   There were no additional deaths, but the number of coronavirus patients in hospitals rose to 587.  Of those, 182 were in ICU and 99 were on ventilators.

Wolff urged people to mask up and avoid large gatherings, as tempting as that may be during the holidays.

“We’ve just got to get through this year and hopefully, we’ll have a vaccine sometime in December or by the first part of next year and we can start coming out of this, but until we do, we just can’t let our guard down,” said Wolff.

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