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Dallas mayor issues emergency stay-at-home regulations in response to county’s order

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson on Tuesday issued emergency regulations that would enforce the county’s shelter in place order in parts of the city that don’t fall under the county’s jurisdiction.

The orders would affect parts of five counties — Collin, Dallas, Denton, Kaufman and Rockwall — that the city encompasses.

“This step is necessary to ensure that our enforcement efforts across the city are uniform and to clarify any confusion among Dallas residents about the many emergency orders they may have been hearing about,” Johnson said in a statement Tuesday.

All Dallas City Council committee meetings unrelated to addressing the new coronavirus also are canceled.

The city’s regulations, which would take effect immediately until 11:59 p.m. Dallas News April 29, applies County Judge Clay Jenkins’ order that restricted all residents from leaving the house unless it’s for critical work and errands. It required all non-essential businesses to stop operating and banned all gatherings outside a household.

The county’s order expires April 3 but could be extended. The city’s regulations remain in place until the end of the emergency declaration, which is currently set to expire April 29.

Any rules that would prevent the city from offering temporary sheltering and housing, restrict delivery hours for food or medical supplies, or limit a manufacturer from producing ventilators are suspended.

Anyone who violates the city’s rules will face a fine anywhere from $50 to $2,000. City officials have said that code enforcement would take the lead on ensuring those rules are followed.

Dallas City Council member Cara Mendelsohn, whose Far North Dallas district encompasses parts of Dallas, Collin and Denton counties, said the mayor’s order provides consistency and assurance to the city’s residents.

Mendelsohn said she has encouraged her district’s residents to stay home. But she’s had residents complain about gatherings in Collin County, such as children’s soccer practice, that they’re expected to attend.

Collin County on Tuesday issued a stay-at-home order effective immediately, but businesses are allowed to remain open — a major departure from Dallas leaders’ approach. Collin County’s disaster declaration earlier stopped short of banning any gatherings over a certain size.

Johnson’s order “really helps cut down on confusion,” Mendelsohn said. “The mayor’s order helps me have a clearer message to all the residents in District 12, instead of separating people by which part of the district they live in.”

Johnson also urged a regional approach to the coronavirus spread, calling for other local leaders to take the same aggressive measures.

But the city and county’s mandates to stem the coronavirus spread, which pushed a regional approach to the pandemic, Press Release Distribution News conflict with the message from the governor’s office.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday said a statewide shelter-in-place order wouldn’t be appropriate, and he punted the decision to local authorities. Saying he’s not the governor “of Dallas,” Abbott said he was considering the interests of all 254 counties in Texas.

Dallas County reported 14 more known cases of the new coronavirus Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases to 169. The county has had five deaths total.

“I believe that we can achieve much broader consensus on emergency orders that will allow the nearly 8 million people who live in our region to operate under clearer and more consistent rules, irrespective of the political boundaries that separate us," Johnson said.

The city’s emergency declaration provides City Manager T.C. Broadnax with sweeping authority to enact any measures necessary for the sake of public health.

Dallas council members last week set the deadline for the disaster declaration to expire at 11:59 p.m. April 29, with a reassessment planned for April 8. Council members could still choose to extend the declaration beyond its expiration date.

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