LOCKHART, Texas - Caldwell County has issued a stay-at-home order for its residents due to COVID-19.
The order goes into effect at 10 p.m. Tuesday, March 31 and will stay in effect until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, April 8, unless extended by the Caldwell County Judge or Commissioner's Court.
"The intent of this Stay Home Stay Safe Order is to ensure that the maximum number of people self-isolate in their places of Residence to the maximum extent feasible, while enabling essential services to continue, to reduce the risk to the health and safety of the people to the maximum extent possible," says the order.
The order states that all individuals living within Caldwell County are ordered to remain in their homes unless they are performing essential activities or accessing or performing essential government functions, healthcare operations, essential business operations or essential critical infrastructure operations. Those who are homeless are exempt from this but are strongly urged to seek shelter and use social distancing.
All businesses operating in the county, except essential businesses, are required to cease all activities except for basic operations or operations involving employees working from home.
All public and private gatherings occurring outside a home are prohibited and all travel, except for essential travel and activities, is prohibited as well. People riding on public transit must comply with social distancing requirements, says the order, and travel in and out of Caldwell County for essential operations is allowed.
Under the order, residents may only leave their homes to do one of the following essential activities:
- To engage in activities or perform tasks essential to their health and safety or the health and safety of a family member (including pets)
- To obtain necessary services or supplies for themselves or their family/household members
- To engage in outdoor activity provided individuals comply with social distancing requirements
- To perform work providing essential products/services at an essential business
- To care for a family member or pet in another household
- To exchange children between parents, guardians or managing conservators because of child custody order or agreement
Residents may also leave to work for or obtain services at any healthcare operation, including hospitals, dentists, clinics, pharmacies, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, other healthcare facilities, healthcare suppliers, home healthcare service providers, mental health providers, substance abuse service providers, blood banks, medical research, laboratory services or any related and/or ancillary healthcare services, home-based and residential-based care for seniors, adults or children, and veterinary care.
The order says healthcare operations do not include fitness and exercise facilities, athletic gyms, exercise gyms; and elective medical, surgical and dental procedures.
The order defines "essential businesses" as the following:
- healthcare operations, essential critical infrastructure and essential government functions
- grocery stores, certified farmers' markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores, and other establishments that sell food and other household consumer products
- food cultivation
- residential, transportation and commercial construction
- businesses that provide services for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals
- newspapers, television, radio and other media services
- gas stations and fuel suppliers
- auto-supply, auto-repair, auto parts, auto-maintenance, vehicle manufacturing and sales
- banks and financial institutions
- hardware stores
- trash and recycling collection, processing and disposal
- cleaning, maintenance and security
- warehouse distribution and fulfillment
- storage for essential businesses
- funeral homes, crematoriums, cemeteries, burial and related services
- plumbers, electricians, exterminators and other related service providers
- real estate functions including property management, recordings and transfers, and property-related services such as permits, inspections, construction, procurement, representation and title searches
- mailing and shipping services and post office boxes
- educational institutions for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions
- laundromats, drycleaners and laundry service providers
- restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food but only for delivery or carry-out
- businesses that supply products for people to work from home
- businesses that provide IT services
- businesses that provide moving services and supplies
- businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services to homes
- any business or manufacturer that retools so a substantial part of their business is for manufacturing and producing products for COVID-19 response
- airlines, taxis and other private transportation providers
- professional services needed to assist with legally mandated activities
- childcare, daycare and child watch facilities
The order says religious and worship services can only be provided by video and teleconference.
All public park equipment and fixtures including all playscapes are closed for public use, but parks are still open during regular hours. The order says their use is for limited exercise activity and social distancing requirements must be followed at all times.
The order has suspended all delivery hour restrictions in the county for transport to or from any entity involved in selling or distributing food, medicine or medical supplies for the next 60 days.
The order also limits all sales of toilet paper in the county to the greater of 12 rolls or one package per purchase due to increased demand for bath or toilet paper.
Nursing homes, retirement and long-term care facilities are instructed to prohibit non-essential visitors unless they're providing critical assistance or end-of-life visitation.
Failure to comply with the order will be considered a criminal offense punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or up to 180 days in jail.
On March 19, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a public health disaster, the first in Texas since 1901. The executive orders, which took effect at midnight Friday, March 20 and goes through midnight on Friday, April 3, bring the state in line with CDC guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The public health disaster orders schools to be closed statewide until at least April 3. The disaster also orders a ban on dine-in eating and gathering in groups of more than 10 as the state ramps up efforts to battle the coronavirus. Abbott's order also will shut down gyms and bars. It also bans visits to nursing and retirement homes unless there is a critical need.
FOX 7 Austin is working to keep you up to date with coronavirus, with both local and national developments. Every weekday we're live at 1 p.m. with a special show reporting the latest news, prevention tips and treatment information.
You can also get the latest COVID-19 news from around the country at coronavirusnow.com.