Copperas Cove locals can hold larger public gatherings of more than 10, must apply for mayoral approval
By BRITTANY FHOLER
As of July 3, outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people in public places or at local businesses are prohibited by Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-28.
However, there are exceptions to that prohibition, in which “the mayor of the city in which the gathering is held, or the county judge in the case of a gathering in an unincorporated area, approves of the gathering, and such approval can be made subject to certain conditions or restrictions not inconsistent with this executive order.”
For Copperas Cove, residents interested in holding a gathering which requires approval must fill out a form. The form is available on the city’s website at www.copperascovetx.gov/pio/COVID-19.
“The process is quite simple, essentially anyone not meeting exemption criteria as outlined in Amended GA-28 and requiring pre-authorization may complete the form, with as much detail as possible, and forward back to any of the following: Kevin Keller (Public Information Officer), Gary Young (Deputy Fire Chief)s, or Brandy Rodriguez (Senior Code Compliance Officer),” said Copperas Cove Public Information Officer Kevin Keller.
There is no fee required, but residents must obtain permission prior to the event, according to Mayor Bradi Diaz.
“GA-28 and GA-29 and the particulars regulating gatherings of more than 10 people are specific to commercial property and buildings and not residential dwellings,” Diaz added.
The city of Copperas Cove has cancelled official city events such as the Kite Festival that had been scheduled for July 18 and the Food Truck Festival which had been scheduled for next month.
According to Keller, the city has received and approved applications for seven events, one of which is the weekly re-occurring Farmers Market.
The application asks the date, time and location of the gathering as well as anticipated number of attendees and the likelihood of individuals over the age of 65 attending.
The form also asks whether the applicant has the ability to: ensure individuals not of the same household can maintain social distancing, which is six feet of separation; ensure individuals will self-screen before coming to the gathering; ensure that individuals will wash or disinfect hands after interactions with other individuals or items at the gathering, with event organizers to provide hand sanitizer; and having the attendees wear face coverings at the gathering when within 6 feet of another person who is not a member of the individual’s group.
After the form is submitted for review and approval/denial, the forms will be returned back to the requestor as quickly as possible. Keller said that currently, the turnaround time for such requests is within a day or so.
If a request is denied, the reason why will be documented on the application.
“What the Mayor and City are seeking from residents on the application is to confirm Gov. Abbott’s Executive Orders are being taken seriously and conformed to,” said Keller. “The application asks questions which allow the Mayor to make an informed decision, and in a few instances the Mayor also spoke with applicants on the phone to ensure her instructions are followed.”
A few examples of why an event may be denied include: the location of event not being deemed large enough to allow for appropriate social distancing; the overall number of projected attendees being too large, not allowing for appropriate social distancing; being unable to ensure hand sanitizing stations; or being unable to ensure attendees will self-screen prior to entering the event, according to Keller.
The mayor has the authority to deny any event for any of these reasons or others as she sees fit due to non-conformity, but she may also revoke approval as a result of non-compliance, Keller added.
Coryell County Judge Roger Miller was frank about the process for those living in unincorporated areas of Coryell County.
“What I would say publicly is I am not going to arbitrarily shut down events. There have been guidelines established by the CDC, by the state, and as long as that event organizer is willing to follow those guidelines, put that on paper and submit that, I will approve those. I’m not here to shut the county down,” said Miller. “We want to enable our citizens, our residents and our businesses to function as best they can in responsible manner. Again, that seems to be the point of contention is wearing a face covering. As long as Exeuctive Order 29 in existance, that is not negotiable.”
With Governor Greg Abbott’s proclamation amending Executive Order GA-28, mass gatherings are restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
GA-28, issued on June 26, set forth restrictions on occupancy of certain businesses and at mass gatherings. GA-28 limited occupancy to a maximum of 50 percent capacity, with some exceptions to include religious services, including those conducted in churches, congregations, and houses of worship; local government operations, including county and municipal governmental operations relating to licensing (including marriage licenses), permitting, recordation, and document-filing services, as determined by the local government; child-care services; summer camps and other daytime and overnight camps for youths; and recreational sports programs for youths and adults.