2021, here we come. While everyone wants to be rid of the year that shut down businesses because of a global pandemic, officials say not to party your way out of 2020 too hard.
Gainesville Police Chief Kevin Phillips said his department will have extra personnel on duty for driving while intoxicated enforcement.
“We all realize 2020 has been a challenging year so there will likely be many celebrations to usher in the new year but we encourage you to be smart and plan ahead so you can start the new year safely,” Phillips said.
He said if you do plan on going out, it is always safer to do so in groups.
“If your activities are going to include the consumption of alcohol, make arrangements for a designated driver or staying overnight,” he said.
Phillips said even if just having a “couple of drinks,” motorists should avoid driving.
“The risk of encountering an intoxicated driver is higher and your reflexes will be slower,” he said.
Texas Highway Patrol Sgt. Mark Tackett said all available state troopers will be patrolling the roadways in Cooke County to make travel as safe as possible during the holiday season.
Drinking isn’t the only thing to worry about this New Year’s Eve.
Cooke County Emergency Management Coordinator and Fire Marshal Ray Fletcher said people need to be mindful of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic when they ring in the new year.
He said statistics show an influx of coronavirus cases from gatherings over Thanksgiving and hopes Christmas and New Year’s will not be “as dramatic.”
“All we can do is encourage people to be responsible,” Fletcher said.
People should always wear a mask when in public and around others they don’t live with, stay at least six feet apart from someone not living in your immediate household, wash hands often or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol and avoid touching your mask, eyes, nose and mouth, information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates.
And, as a man of multiple hats, Fletcher asks those shooting fireworks to be mindful that the season has been drier than normal.
“Fuels are cured,” he said. “If shooting over a big open pasture it’s going to catch fire.”
Fletcher said people using fireworks need to know where they might land and have a way of putting out a fire. Children, he said, should also be supervised.
Fireworks are legal to shoot in unincorporated areas of the county year round, Fletcher said. He asks that anyone who doesn’t live in the unincorporated areas of the county to check with their local municipality.
In Gainesville, it is unlawful for “any person to possess, store, offer for sale, sell at retail, or use or explode any fireworks,”according to the city’s code of ordinances. Offenders could face a fine of up to $2,000 for each offense.