TEXARKANA — The mayors of Texarkana, Arkansas, and Texarkana, Texas, have ordered a mandatory curfew affecting all citizens of both cities.
To help stop the spread of the new coronavirus, every resident must remain indoors between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., they announced in a Wednesday afternoon media briefing. Those traveling to or from work, to a hospital for treatment or to a pharmacy will be exempted from the curfew.
The curfew takes effect immediately on the Texas side and Thursday on the Arkansas side.
Anyone out during those hours will be escorted home by police and face consequences, Texas-side Mayor Bob Bruggeman said.
Breaking curfew on the Arkansas side will be a city ordinance violation, and offenders will receive a citation, a Texarkana, Arkansas, Police Department spokesperson said. In Texas, the violation will be a Class C misdemeanor, and offenders will be cited to Municipal Court and subject to a fine, according to a Texarkana, Texas, Police Department spokesperson.
Bruggeman and Arkansas-side Mayor Allen Brown also ordered nail salons, hair salons, barber shops, massage parlors and therapists and tattoo shops closed for business beginning at 11:59 p.m. Thursday.
The steps are necessary because too many residents are failing to take recommended precautions against spreading the virus, including staying home except for essential travel and limiting gatherings to 10 or fewer people, Bruggeman said.
"I am concerned that our citizens have become complacent and may not be taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously. Social distancing is not being practiced by many.
"I see parking lots full and groups socializing. This is not OK. We must be aware of the danger we are putting ourselves in when in contact with others," Bruggeman said.
Last week, Brown and Bruggeman asked minors to voluntarily adhere to a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew, along with other steps, in official declarations of disaster. The steps announced Wednesday will be added to those declarations.
By governors' orders, bars and restaurants in both Arkansas and Texas remain closed for dine-in service, though takeout and delivery — including of alcoholic beverages — remain allowed. Brown encouraged taking advantage of those services to support local businesses.
Many other businesses have closed or are offering limited services.
Both mayors emphasized unity and consistency between the two Texarkanas.
"During this public health crisis, it is important to remember that COVID-19 knows no state lines," Bruggeman said.