Lubbock mayor issues order closing all non-essential businesses

On Monday, Lubbock mayor Dan Pope issued an order to close all non-essential businesses inside city limits.

Pope said these changes are being put into effect so that Lubbock can avoid a "shelter in place" order due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If these changes and regulations are followed, Pope said he does not expect a "shelter in place" order to be necessary in Lubbock.

"We expect that in a short amount of time sheltering in place will become common in the largest Texas cities," Pope said. "I've talked to several of those mayors today. So here's my comment. I don't believe that sheltering in place is needed in Lubbock right now."

The official list of establishments that qualify as essential include grocery stores, pharmacies, package stores, pet supply and veterinary clinics, healthcare providers, vehicle fuel stations, banks and financial institutions, day care centers and anything related to critical infrastructure.

To clarify the establishments that are not essential, Pope listed hair salons, barbershops, hair stylists, nail salons, tattoo parlors, piercing, tanning and hair removal businesses as non-essential.

Other non-essential businesses according to the fourth Declaration of Disaster include non-essential retail establishments, commercial amusement and entertainment venues, enclosed shopping malls and group meeting spaces.

The updated policy will go into effect at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24.

City Manager Jarrett Atkinson said of the businesses the city has inspected so far, all were either in compliance when inspectors arrived or were in compliance by the time the inspectors departed.

Failure to comply with the city ordinance limiting gatherings to 10 people can carry a fine of up to $1,000, Atkinson said. This fine can be given to the business itself or all individuals inside of the building if it is not found to be in compliance.

Another option the city has available is any establishment found to not be in compliance can be subject to immediate closure, although Atkinson said he does not expect there to be a need for this anytime soon.

"We're still gonna be out there looking," Atkinson said. "I'm not expecting any problems. If we can protect the public health, we flatten the curve, and we will be back to business."

While other cities take extreme measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, Lubbock has a unique factor of distance from other large cities, which has helped to slow the spread of the virus to the city and within it.

"So let me summarize by saying if we can follow the measures that have been put in place in Lubbock, I believe we can avoid shelter in place," Pope said. "If that changes, I'll be the first one to talk to you about it. But right now that's not the case."