MCALLEN, Texas – Governor Greg Abbott modified COVID-19 executive orders to remove confinement as a form of punishment to businesses in violation of those orders.
The move comes after several business owners were arrested. With the threat of no jail, what consequences businesses could face if they violate orders?
Hidalgo County officials says the county has superseded authority of orders to the Governor’s office, and the enforcement lies with municipalities. Judge Richard Cortez says the county’s focus has been on educating the public on protecting themselves from the virus and it would be impossible to police Hidalgo County for business violators.
“I can understand the Governor’s concerns that there could be varying interpretations of his orders so I understand his latest actions. At the end of the day, the laws we put into place are intended to protect the public.” says Cortez.
Roy Rodriguez, City Manager with the City of McAllen says most business are following the law even if in the end result is hurting them tremendously.
“People can get cited, people can get warned, there’s certain things depending on the establishment itself. There’s some things you can do for the permits that they have without having to arrest people, that’s just not the objective of our city, for businesses who are trying to survive.” says Rodriguez.
Attorney Aurelio Garza says business have reached out to him and he understands people out there want to make a living. “In this case, the governor realized that jailing people for trying to put food on their families table is utterly ridiculous, when your actually releasing other individuals incarcerated for far worse offenses.” says Garza.
This afternoon the City of Edinburg held a special council meeting to remove jail as a punishment from their disaster order, but say businesses may still face a citation.