HOUSTON - The Mayor of America's fourth-largest city grappling with the first day of a "stay home/work safe" policy meant to slow the spread of the Coronavirus by sidelining all but essential workers.
“This was not done lightly,” said Sylvester Turner.
While some categories of vital labor are clear, others are less so, drawing queries from Council Members seeking clarity for professions like lawn worker and child care provider.
“They want to know if they have to take care of kids while some go to work, as well as those who provide in-home health care?,” asked Council Member Carolyn Evans-Shabazz.
“Those are essential employees,” answered the Mayor.
Turner repeated a list of 16 federally designated job categories which along with their support networks are deemed critical and warned that employers who clearly defied the order would be held legally accountable.
"If you are not in a central business and fit in those categories, you need to stay home, you just need to stay home,” said Turner.
The Mayor also contended with deep concerns involving the City's transit system after Councilman Greg Travis says he witnessed Metro buses transporting far more than 10 passengers on a single trip.
“It is not sufficient to say this is the only way people can get around town because what we are really saying is it's okay for them to ride a death taxi. It's okay for them to get infected so they can get around town,” said Travis.
“For many people in our City, they don't have cars and trucks. Those are the realities,” answered Turner who says workers in vital sectors must have reliable transportation.
The Mayor did assure Council promise that Metro is blocking off seats to promote social distancing and is disinfecting its fleet more frequently than ever before.