Texas Truck Stop Under Pressure From City to Enforce COVID-19 Policies or Be Shut Down
Hidalgo County, TX – Truck stops are coming under more scrutiny amid the COVID-19 pandemic as more cities and municipalities around the United States implement safety policies.
Such is the case for one truck stop in Texas.
On Tuesday, April 7, Hidalgo County, Texas, located in South Texas near the U.S./Mexico border, issued an order that “all persons over the age of three are required to wear some form of covering over their mouth and nose, such as a homemade mask, scarf, bandana, or handkerchief when entering into any building open to the public for essential activities.”
As truckers are deemed essential workers, the law pertains to any driver traveling in or through the area or when on business parking lots as well as when fueling your truck.
County leaders said non-compliance to the order could result in a fine up to $1,000 and 180 days in confinement.
The city of Edinburg, located within Hidalgo County, implemented its own mask mandate prior to the County-wide order, which went into effect at 5 a.m. on Monday, April 6.
Trucker David Pelto Jr., from Fayetteville, AR, was at a TravelCenters of America (TA) location in Edinburg on Thursday evening and noted the truck stop was not allowing people to enter without a mask.
“They’re implementing so many laws across the country, that as a truck driver it catches us off guard,” he told Transportation Nation Network (TNN) of the changing orders and regulations due to COVID-19 nationwide.
Pelto, who has been a driver for almost 18 years and an owner-operator and small fleet owner for much of that time, says police were on-site to enforce the mask mandate.
“They’ve also closed off the truck driver entrance,” he said.
TNN spoke with a member of the truck stop’s management team on Friday about the challenges of implementing the new policies.
“We had a few customers that got really upset,” the manager said. “One customer kicked the door really hard. Another trucker started yelling and cussing and throwing things.”
In addition to the face mask order, the city is also instructing truck stop employees to notify customers upon entering the store that they must first go to the rest room and wash their hands before touching any items.
“We just have to follow whatever the city instructs us to do. They’ve already told us if we don’t, they are going to shut us down,” the manager stated.
LATEST COVID-19 NEWS
Further, the truck stop representative indicated city officials, such as members of the local police and fire departments, are frequently on-site to make sure the store is adequately enforcing the order.
The law will be in effect until 11:59 p.m. on April 30, unless it is “rescinded, superseded or amended” before that time.
As TNN first reported, Laredo was the first city to implement such a mandate, which went into effect at 12:01 a.m. on April 2.
On April 7, leaders in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties in California followed suit.
As other cities continue to implement such orders, TNN will keep you updated.
Photos courtesy of David Pelto Jr.