MIDLAND, Texas — Don't expect to see a shelter in place in Midland. If you ask mayor Patrick Payton, he believes Midlanders are already behaving as if there is a shelter in place.
Mayor Payton and city council members considered a shelter in place declaration at Tuesday’s city council meeting and decided against adopting one.
“We had a rather robust conversation about this type of declaration,” Mayor Payton said. Before Tuesday’s city council meeting, the mayor pulled the shelter in place declaration for other Texas communities, including Dallas, Waco and Austin.
“I wanted to read through those to see if we needed to make any changes to what we’re doing here,” he said.
The mayor took to Facebook Tuesday evening to explain why he chose not to issue a shelter in place declaration.
“These resolutions are pages and pages full of information,” Mayor Payton said holding up a resolution packet during a Facebook LIVE. “These shelters in place are put in with exception, after exception, after exception. What’s happening is that with fear, things are being put out there and then there’s an exception which just ends up telling you to keep doing what you’re doing.”
Mayor Payton believes that declaring a shelter in place is not a step Midland should have to take.
"We are seeing people step up doing the things they must do. I for one do not want to be a mayor who issues something that negates itself in the final few pages,” Mayor Payton said. “What I believe, is if we tell you what's expected of you and what you need to do and quite frankly what must be done if we do not want to be overrun by a virus, then we as free people will do what is necessary things to serve one another well and use our freedom well.”
The shelter in place in Dallas shows that people are able to leave their homes to buy groceries, get medical supplies and exercise. Businesses that provide essential services, like food, medical and maintenance will remain open – all orders Midland has done without an official shelter in place, according to the mayor.
"This is what's happening all over Midland. You're seeing people shut down their businesses. You are seeing people do everything they can to provide food to-go. You are seeing people make sacrifices," he said.
The city council did vote to extend its emergency declaration – meaning the city will continue to adhere to Governor Greg Abbott’s demands. The new declaration will last until at least April 3rd.
The declaration officially limits gatherings to ten people or less. People cannot eat in restaurant dining rooms or gather at bars and schools must remain closed.
The declaration also gives Midland access to state and federal funding to deal with COVID-19.