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Timpson Mayor issues a curfew order as additional effort to protect community as spread of COVID-19 virus directly threatens Shelby County

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Timpson Mayor issues a curfew order as additional effort to protect community as spread of COVID-19 virus directly threatens Shelby County

 

By Chad Pate, East Texas Press

 

Mayor Debra Smith announced on Friday, March 27, 2020 that the City of Timpson will begin enforcing a citywide curfew order to help further protect citizens from the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus.  The highly contagious virus has now been confirmed in Shelby County.  The emergency curfew order for the City Limits of Timpson, mandatory for all citizens of any age, will begin at 10PM CST on Friday, Mar 27, 2020.   These types of orders expire in 7-days, unless the Council meets and extends the order due to necessity.  A link to a PDF of the official ordinance can be found at the end of this article.

 

The curfew order comes after Judge Harbison’s March 25, 2020 Declaration of Local Disaster for Shelby County in response to the coronavirus.  On Thursday, March 26, 2020, Judge Harbison also issued a notice that the first confirmed case of coronavirus had been reported in Shelby County. 

 

As an effort to help citizens better understand the City’s action, East Texas Press asked Mayor Smith the following questions regarding the curfew

 

What are the penalties for a person caught in violation of curfew?

It is our plan to warn 1st and if the person complies no further action will occur; 2nd offense, the person can be fined up to $1000.00.  If one does not comply when warned, they would be cited and if other laws are being broken, they could be arrested.

 

What law gives the mayor the authority to issue a citywide curfew?

Texas Disaster Act of 1975

 

Will Timpson PD be increasing night patrol during the next week to enforce curfew? YES, Chief Graham and Officer Ashworth increased patrols several days ago and have been helping where needed. During the day they will be patrolling parks (which are not closed during daytime hours – but social distancing and limited numbers should be observed; our local cemeteries, businesses, school, food distribution, food bank distributions, supply truck deliveries to our stores, our banks and clinic. During the evening between 10pm and 5am they will patrol residential areas, business areas, enforce traffic when applicable, and ENFORCE the CURFEW.

 

If a citizen has a question, or wishes to make a curfew related report, who should they contact, and how?

All violations of state and local laws should be reported to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office NON-EMERGENCY 936-598-5600 and EMERGENCY 9-1-1.   With that said, violating a curfew order MAY not be considered an emergency without mitigating circumstances.

 

Will every business in Timpson be adhering to curfew by adjusting their hours? Most businesses in Timpson are closed well before 10PM. No “essential business” is being forced to close via this order. It is my understanding that WHATABURGER will have their DRIVE THRU WINDOW OPEN FOR BUSINESS between 10PM and 5AM while their lobby door will be locked during those hours.  Timpson Quick Stop (inside sales) will be closed between 10PM and 5AM during the order, while their GAS and DIESEL PUMPS will remain OPEN FOR CREDIT/DEBIT CARD SALES.  To confirm individual business details please contact them directly.  Timpson Quick Stop 936-254-2423 and Timpson Whataburger 936-254-3438.

 

Is anyone exempt from the curfew? 

YES, Emergency responders, city employees that work on the city’s utilities (if on a call), employees going to or coming from work*, someone going to hospital/ER.  This list may not cover all exemptions but hopefully it clears up the major ones. 

 

Another important point is that this curfew is covering city owned property: parks – streets – roads – alleyways – sidewalks and right-of-way.  Private Business Property is just that; the City of Timpson is not mandating business closures or restrictions. If a business changes their hours – THEY MAY ASK – local law enforcement to ensure no one is violating the curfew by being on their property during the hours that they ARE NOT OPEN FOR BUSINESS.  Timpson Police Department is here to protect and serve!

 

Mayor Smith asks residents to please continue to limit their travel and remain at home. The City does not wish to enact a stay-at-home ordinance and hopes the public will continue to participate in advised safety practices.  

Mayor Smith stated, “A Shelter in Place only works if people abide by the system. It allows people to leave their home to go to work*, get food, get gas, get medicine, go for medical visits, and go to the bank or ATM. It suggests only one person from each household be the designated person that runs these errands.  Shelter in Place (WACO, DALLAS) is NOT a Containment Zone (New Rochelle, NY).   The City of Timpson does not have the infrastructure to monitor and assist with a SHELTER IN PLACE order at this time.  If things worsen, and it is required, we will make that decision.  Hopefully, our citizens will comply with the curfew and self-restrict their comings and goings until this is all in our past!”

CLICK HERE TO VIEW A PDF OF THE CITY ORDER FOR CURFEW.

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WHEREAS, the Texas Department of State Health Services has now determined that, as of March 19, 2020, COVID- 19 represents a public health disaster within the meaning of Chapter 81 of the Texas Health and Safety Code; and

 

WHEREAS, the City of TIMPSON, Texas, is located in Shelby County, TEXAS and as of March 25, 2020 is under a DECLARATION of LOCAL DISASTER issued by County Judge Allison Harbison in response to the coronavirus; and

 

WHEREAS, the City of Timpson on March 26, 2020 has received confirmation of COVID 19 in our local area; and

 

WHEREAS, many citizens, businesses, and our most vulnerable – the elderly require immediate protection against further exposure; and

 

      WHEREAS, a curfew between the hours of 10:00 P.M. and 5:00 A.M. preventing persons without proper authority from being upon the public streets or rights-of-way located within the City limits of Timpson will greatly assist health professionals and law enforcement in protection against unlawful gathering and further exposure.

 

      NOW THEREFORE, I, MAYOR OF THE CITY OF TIMPSON,  HEREBY FIND AND ORDER:

 

      SECTION 1:     That the findings and recitations set out in the preamble to this ORDER are found to be true and correct and they are hereby adopted and made a part hereof for all purposes.

 

      SECTION 2:     That it shall be unlawful for any person, without property authority, to be upon the public streets or rights-of-way located within the City LIMITS of Timpson between the hours of 10:00 P.M. and 5:00 A.M. the next morning.

 

      SECTION 3.     That the Chief of Police is hereby authorized to designate other areas and to restrict access, ingress and egress to those areas, as warranted by circumstances

 

      SECTION 4.     That it shall be unlawful for any person, without proper authority, to be in an affected area that has been designated with limited or denied access, ingress, or egress and any person or entity who shall violate any provision of this ORDER shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be fined in a sum not to exceed $1,000.00.  Each unauthorized entry into a designated, restricted area shall constitute a separate violation.

 

      SECTION 5.     That this ORDER shall expire upon the order of the Chief of Police.

 

      SECTION 6.     That, in accordance with the Texas Disaster Act of 1975, this declaration shall take effect immediately at 10 PM CST on March 27, 2020.

 

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*The City of Timpson is not in the business of deciding which jobs/businesses are essential. If a person is out between 10PM and 5AM related to their job they may be asked for proof of “work” – A simple letter from their employer could be kept with them during this time stating their work hours.