In an effort to help stop people from gathering in groups of 10 or more, Red River County Judge L.D. Williamson has issued a county-wide curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

“We are having problems with a group of people, 24- to 40-years-old people, congregating at car washes and restaurant parking lots after they were closed,” Williamson said. “We didn’t have an effective way of breaking that up.”

The curfew is intended to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, he added, and it isn’t to stop people from actually heading in to work.

“We did not intend for it to be for people not to go to work,” Williamson said. “A lot of people around here work at Campbell’s or on the night shift.

“If a car is just roaming the streets, yes, we will stop them.”

Many companies have issued their workers documentation of their hours so that law enforcement will let them continue on after being stopped by an officer, he said.

“We’re trying to make this as easy as possible,” Williamson said.

So far, no one in the county has tested positive for the coronavirus, he said, but that was likely due to few people actually receiving a test.

“I suspect that we have some cases,” Williamson said. “That’s the reason we are trying to get people to abide by the law.”

He said even local churches have volunteered to not have services in order to keep people safe at home.

He’s receiving pressure from both sides, Williamson said, but issuing a shelter-in-place order for the whole county will be a measure of last resort.

“I hate to do that because there are a lot of little businesses that can’t afford to close,” he said. “I know they are hurting bad.”

While the recently passed stimulus package offers some options for businesses that lost income during the shutdown, those are mostly loans, and taking out another loan just to stay afloat might not help most small businesses, Williamson said.

Still, if it comes down to it, he will issue the order if deemed necessary, he said.

“I don’t want to overreact, but I’d rather overreact than underreact,” Williamson said.

Kim Cox is the city editor for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6965 or at kim.cox@theparisnews.com.

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