Denison responded to the COVID-19 outbreak reaching city limits by implementing a "stay home, stay safe" guidelines. Beginning at 11:59 p.m. this Friday Denison residents are asked to stay home except to perform essential tasks outside the home including going to the grocery store or pharmacy. Businesses are being asked to also do their part by limiting public access to store fronts.


Denison is home to the first two reported confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Grayson County. The city closed public access to its facilities at its last city council meeting. Since then Denison Mayor Janet Gott has issued a disaster declaration on March 19 that mirrored a similar declaration Texas Governor Greg Abbot issued that same week. That declaration was extended ‘until further notice’ Wednesday afternoon.


Mayor Gott said the ordinance is not a shelter in place, but if people do not heed the warning the city is prepared to implement that next step.


Gott warned residents that if they do not take this measure seriously the city is prepared to issue a shelter in place as the next step.


“I want to be perfectly clear the council has taken this action today to issue stay home and stay safe,” Gott said. “The intent is to raise awareness of the seriousness of this crisis and stop the spread of this virus. We have 2 confirmed cases in our community only we can stop the spread by following this ordinance this is step 1.”


Gott said the essential city services like trash pickup, street maintenance, water and sewer and police will continue to operate. She said the purpose of the ordinance is not to limit people but to educate them on the seriousness of the situation.


“If these directions are not followed we have prepared a shelter in place order and will issue it immediately if it becomes evident the next step is needed to control this community spread,” Gott said.


The ordinance specifically asks those businesses in the personal grooming space such as nail salons, barber shops and the like to consider closing their doors during the health crisis.


Denison City Manager Jud Rex said essential retail such as gas stations, grocery stores and auto repair services will continue to operate as long as they follow the social distancing guidelines.


The ordinance is directing all residents and businesses to wash their hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as frequently as possible. The city is requesting the use of hand sanitizer if soap is not readily available. It also directs residents to cover coughs and sneezes while also avoiding shaking hands and touching one’s own face. Coughing or sneezing should be done into the sleeve or elbow it says.


It directs residents to avoid eating or drinking at restaurants, bars and food courts while also avoiding gyms or massage parlors. It does suggest businesses can use drive-thru, pickup or delivery options.


Businesses that are being asked to close primarily include those where social distancing is difficult to maintain. The op of the list includes personal care services including nail salons, spas, tattoo parlors, barbers and hair salons.


Those non-essential businesses are asked to restrict sale of goods to using the internet, mail order or phone orders to purchase goods not deemed as essential.


Essential businesses are being strongly encouraged to practice social distancing as much as possible.


Those guidelines apply to the public as well as the employees.


The following are classified as essential businesses according to the ordinance: Food providers, including grocery stores, warehouse stores, liquor stores, gas stations and convenience stores; food cultivation including farming, fishing and livestock; businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, good or services directly to residents; schools and other firms that provide free services to students or the general public limited to pick up and take away services only; financial services and institutions; laundromats, dry cleaners and laundry service providers; gas stations, auto-supply and bicycle repair, hardware stores and related businesses; business that supply products needed for people to work from home. All other retailers are deemed nonessential retail according to the ordinance.


The ordinance implements some guidelines for social distancing that includes a restriction on public and private gatherings. People who are sick living within Denison city limits are urged to stay home except to seek urgent medical care. The six-foot rule of keeping space between individuals is also strongly encouraged.


For more coronavirus related news, visit http://www.HeraldDemocrat.com/coronavirus.