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No new COVID mandate updates pass at council meeting

Some council members are pushing for stricter mandates as the holiday season approaches, while others oppose harsher restrictions, saying it will hurt local businesses.
Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 9:29 PM CST
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - Whether or not stricter COVID-19 prevention mandates are needed continues to be a hot topic among city leaders.

Some are pushing for stricter mandates as the holiday season approaches, while others oppose harsher restrictions, saying it will hurt local businesses.

“At this point it becomes a personal responsibility, council last night could not vote consensus, so it is up to the public to try very hard.”

District 6 council member Doctor Marte Martinez was pushing hard at Monday night’s council meeting to tighten up local COVID-19 mandates, but there was not enough support from the rest of council.

“Several other things are gonna happen,” said Martinez. “We could’ve tried to prevent that last night but now I don’t think it’s gonna prevent it.”

During the meeting, Martinez expressed concern over Laredo possibly heading towards a crisis level, since an increase in COVID cases are reported each day.

Martinez proposed motions, all of them with the same goal: to tighten up local COVID-19 protocols.

Martinez pushed for some city operations to go virtual if possible. He said the city should show by example, but it didn’t pass.

He then proposed the city to take away a business' occupancy permit once it violates 3 COVID-19-related orders. However, that also did not receive enough support from other members to pass.

“How do you determine if they are drinking or not?” asked Roberto Balli, District 8 council member. “Are they suppose to put their masks on after every sip? I think it’s going to be too difficult to enforce once people are at the bar they are not going to wear a mask, period.”

Martinez then motioned for the City of Laredo to lower the number of people allowed at social gatherings in a household. KGNS was later told by Mayor Pete Saenz that the city could not enforce this.

“Upon checking the governor’s order, the governor’s order places no limits,” said Mayor Pete Saenz. “It can be a household plus all the people they invite.”

After almost two hours and many motions denied, council did agree to send a letter to school districts and private sports leagues to recommend they reduce the number of games in the season.

City council extended the emergency order until January 19, 2021 with no new changes.

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