The Mesquite City Council held a special meeting via conference call Monday evening that was also broadcast via Facebook Live to address some concerns regarding the shelter in place order, and extending the mayor’s declaration of local disaster that was issued on March 23 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
District 1 Councilwoman Sherry Wisdom said one of the main concerns brought to her by residents is regarding people gathering at school parks to play soccer, basketball, etc. and large gatherings at their homes. District 6 Councilman Dan Aleman said these were the same concerns brought forth by the residents in his district.
City Manager Cliff Keheley said the parks are still open, but the city has taken measures to close off the parking lots and amenities in an effort to discourage group gatherings. He added that they’re in the process of turning off all the lights to any basketball courts.
“What we encourage residents to do is if they see groups practicing soccer, playing basketball or just generally gathering in large groups is to dial 911 and the police department has been tasked with dispersing these groups,” he said. “When it comes to large gatherings at homes, those are a little bit more difficult to enforce; that would also be a call to the police department.”
The city has put up signs throughout its parks to remind people to follow social distancing recommendations of maintaining a 6-foot physical distance while out enjoying the parks.
“We’re doing our best to educate as we can,” Keheley said. “We do expect people to have responsibility for themselves and responsibility for their safety, and we anticipate that should we continue to see noncompliance with the stay at home orders, that the county will implement further restrictions.”
He added that the parks are regularly monitored to make sure people are complying with social distancing.
In regards for the safety of first responders during this pandemic, Keheley said the city is working to acquire enough protective gear for several months.
“We made sure that every officer and firefighter is not only supplied with equipment but is properly trained, and they’ve done an outstanding job of responding to this crisis and we’re very proud of their efforts,” he said.
A resident called in asking if the shelter in place order would be extended. Currently, the Dallas County shelter in place runs through April 3.
“We do anticipate it to extend, and the ordinance that we have put in place will automatically extend locally in relation to anything that the state or the county does,” Keheley said.
It’s been noted that the city is making an effort to educate the public, but citations will be given out for noncompliance of county orders.