Some Little Elm residents are taking the stay-at-home order seriously. But not everyone.
Police Chief Rodney Harrison can attest to that. Harrison said, for example, he witnessed someone with their toddler walk up to the playground at Little Elm Park earlier this week despite a sign stating that the playground is closed.
Per executive orders from the national, state and county levels, social distancing is required to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Denton County’s order, which the Commissioners Court on Tuesday voted to extend through 11:59 p.m. April 7, allows essential activities and essential businesses but prohibits social gatherings, closes playgrounds and more.
“Typically the people we’ve come into contact with are on their way to an essential business, like a store or a gas station,” Harrison said. “But the struggle has been shutting down the playground equipment. Even though a sign is posted, we still have to remind people that it’s closed.”
Harrison said the biggest issue has been teenagers congregating in public.
“They’re more mobile, and their parents aren’t able to keep up with them as easily,” Harrison said. “They’re on the basketball courts even though we have signs posted.”
Residents have taken their concerns to social media where some have discussed crowds at the beach and at parks. Others voiced concern over the large number of customers at Lowe's, although home repair stores are allowed to be open.
While it’s within a police officer’s right to issue a citation or even make an arrest for violations, per the Denton County order, Harrison said Little Elm officers have taken the approach of educating the violators, for now.
“If we find this happening we encourage them to follow the rules and let them know what the consequences are,” Harrison said.
Harrison said he understands there can be some confusion as to what’s allowed since the orders come from different levels of government and change multiples times a week.
“It’s ever evolving,” Harrison said. “So we have to remain flexible to carry out the directive. This is all fluid, and we need our residents to remain fluid, too.”
But difficult or not Harrison said residents need to do their part in practicing social distancing.
“People need to take this seriously,” Harrison said.