Coronavirus Graphic

It could serve as a sign of things to come for Walker County.

On Friday, Montgomery County Judge Mark Keogh signed a stay-at-home order to stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The order, which will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. tonight and continue through April 12 requires all individuals living within Montgomery County to stay at their place of residence except for essential activities. The order also places a curfew from 11:59 p.m. until 6 a.m. each night.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, Montgomery County has 41 confirmed cases of the virus. Walker County has only two.

A stay at home order has not yet been issued by Walker County Judge Danny Pierce. 

See full order below.

ORDER OF COUNTY JUDGE MARK J. KEOUGH

STAY HOME, STOP THE SPREAD

Whereas, On March 12, 2020, Montgomery County Judge Mark J. Keough issued a Declaration of Local Disaster for a Public Health Emergency to prepare for, respond to, and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 to protect the health and welfare of Montgomery County residents; and

Whereas, a duly called Emergency Meeting of Commissioners Court was held on March 12, 2020, to ratify and extend the Declaration of Local Disaster for a Public Health Emergency, said Declaration was ratified and extend until April 12, 2020; and

Whereas, On March 12, 2020, Judge Mark J. Keough issued an Order affecting the occupancy of premises throughout Montgomery County, under the authority granted in Chapter 418, Texas Government Code; and

Whereas, On March 13, 2020, a Declaration of State of Disaster was issued by Governor Greg Abbott, to protect the health and welfare of Texans; and

Whereas, On March 13, 2020, President Donald J. Trump issued a Declaration of National Emergency; and

Whereas, On March 16, 2020, President Donald J. Trump issued strict new guidelines to limit people’s interactions, including, that Americans should avoid groups of more than 10 people; and

Whereas, On March 17, 2020, Judge Mark J. Keough, issued an Amended Order affecting the occupancy of premises throughout Montgomery County, adding restaurants must cease on-site dining operations and limiting gatherings; and

Whereas, On March 19, 2020, Governor Greg Abbott issued the first Public Health Disaster Declaration in the State of Texas since 1901 and an Executive Order which, among other things, prohibits Texans from gathering in groups of more than 10 people; and

Whereas, COVID-19 virus is contagious and spreads through person-to-person contact, especially in group settings; and

Whereas, given the ongoing evaluation of circumstances related to the COVID-19 virus, the updated recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and the Texas Department of State Health Services, and the Montgomery County Public Health District, the substantial risk posed by the COVID-19 virus to Montgomery County residents and their livelihoods, the following extraordinary measures must be taken to protect the public’s safety.

NOW THEREFORE, I, COUNTY JUDGE FOR MONTGOMERY COUNTY, TEXAS, PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORITY VESTED BY TEXAS GOVERNMENT CODE CHAPTER 418, HEREBY FIND AND ORDER:

1. Effective as of 11:59 p.m. on March 27, 2020, and continuing until 11:59 p.m. on April 12, 2020:

a. All individuals currently living within Montgomery County are ordered to stay at their place of residence except for Essential Activities as defined in this order. All persons may leave their Residences only for Essential Activities, or to provide or perform Essential Government Functions, or to operate or work at an Essential Business, as defined in Section 2. For the purposes of this Order, Residences include homes, hotels, motels, shared rentals, RV parks, multi-family complexes, and their curtilage or similar facilities. To the extent individuals are using shared or outdoor spaces, they must at all times as reasonably possible maintain social distancing of at least six feet from any other person when they are outside their residence and its curtilage.

b. A curfew will be in place throughout all of Montgomery County, starting at 11:59 p.m. every night and ending at 6:00 a.m. the next morning for all persons not performing Essential Government Functions, working for and traveling to or from an Essential Businesses, or seeking emergency medical care, and traveling through the county from one county to another, or as otherwise as defined in Section 2. This curfew will begin at 11:59 p.m. on March 27, 2020 and continue as Ordered until the expiration of this Order including amendments.

c. All businesses operating with in Montgomery County, except Essential Businesses as defined below in Section 2 and Attachment are required to cease all activities at facilities located within the County. For clarity, businesses may continue operations consisting exclusively of employees or contractors performing activities at their own residences (i.e., working from home). Those employees associated with ongoing physical maintenance of non-essential businesses. To the greatest extent possible, all Essential Businesses shall comply with the Social Distancing Guidelines, including maintaining six-foot social distancing for both employees and the general public where possible.

d. All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single household or living unit are prohibited, except as otherwise provided herein. Nothing in this Order prohibits the gatherings of members of a household or living unit. Nothing in this Order affects court orders or agreements regarding child-related visitation or custody arrangements.

e. Individuals may go to public parks and open outdoor recreation areas. However, public playgrounds may increase the spread of COVID-19 and, therefore, shall be closed. Biking, waterborne activities, hiking and any other outdoor recreation activities not specifically listed shall be conducted in accordance with Social Distancing Guidelines, at all times.

f. Restaurants, bars, clubs, private clubs, micro-breweries, micro-distilleries, wineries, and other establishments that serve food and/or alcohol, shall cease serving food and/or alcohol, for consumption on the premises and may only serve food and/or alcohol by take out, delivery, or drive-through services as allowed by Texas law or in accordance with Executive Orders issued by the Governor of Texas or the County Judge.

g. Gyms, fitness centers, and other facilities that are used or intended to be used for any type of training, martial arts, gymnastics, sports, or recreation shall close.

h. Hair and nail salons, spas, licensed massage businesses, tattoo parlors, cosmetic businesses, barber shops, concert halls, live performance theaters, arenas, stadiums, movie theaters, game rooms, bowling alleys, arcades, indoor and outdoor flea markets, and swap meets, indoor malls, indoor shopping centers, and bingo halls shall close.

i. Churches, synagogues, mosques or other places of worship may only provide worship services by video, audio, teleconference, and drive in. Faith leaders may minister and counsel in individual settings to include end of life counseling in a hospital or at the request of a Justice of the Peace or other Government Official, so long as social distancing protocols are followed. Religious institutions must limit in-person staff to those necessary for the operations and physical maintenance of the institution and all individuals must follow the Social Distancing Guidelines, including the six-foot rule.

2. Definitions:

a. For purposes of this Order, individuals may leave their residence only to perform any of the following “Essential Activities”:

i. To engage in activities or perform task essential to their health and safety, or to the health and safety of their family or household members (for example, obtaining medical supplies or medications, visiting a healthcare professional, or obtaining supplies needed to work from home). So long as those activities are done within the provisions of Section 1 (b).

ii. To obtain necessary services or supplies for themselves and their family or household members, or to deliver those services or supplies to others (for example, food, pet supplies, and any other household consumer products, supplies needed to work from home, and products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences). So long as those activities are done within the provisions of Section 1 (b).

iii. To engage in outdoor activity, provided the individuals comply with social distancing requirements of six feet (for example, walking, biking, hiking, running, or fishing). So long as those activities are done within the provisions of Section 1 (b).

iv. To perform work providing essential products and services at an Essential Business or to otherwise carry out activities specifically permitted in this Order. Persons actively employed, working with, or providing services, to include, the delivery of goods for an Essential Business or Government Functions are exempt from the provisions of Section 1(b), while actively engaged in the performance of their duties.

v. To care for a family member or pet in your household or another household. Persons actively performing functions under this provision are exempt from the provisions of Section 1 (b) while traveling to or from another household to perform the care needed.

b. For purposes of this Order, “Essential Businesses” include:

i. Essential Critical Infrastructure. Work necessary to the operations and maintenance of the 16 critical infrastructure sectors identified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security National Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), provided that they carry out those services or that work in compliance with social distancing requirements of six feet to the extent possible. See Attachment (CISA’s Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce). Essential Businesses providing essential infrastructure should implement screening precautions to protect employees and all activities shall be performed in compliance with social distancing guidelines where possible.

ii. Essential Government Functions. All services provided by local governments and municipalities deemed essential by the presiding officer or designee, to include operations deemed essential by an elected official for their department located in Montgomery County as needed to ensure their continuing operations to provide for the health, safety and welfare of the public, including law enforcement, jail operations, court operations, fire services, emergency medical services, emergency management and other services necessary. Further, nothing in this Order shall prohibit any individual from performing “Essential Government Functions”. All Essential Government Functions shall be performed in compliance with social distancing requirements of six feet to the extent possible.

iii. Essential Healthcare Operations. Healthcare operations, including hospitals, clinics, dentist, pharmacies, chiropractors, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, other healthcare facilities, healthcare suppliers, 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 are also considered healthcare operations. Healthcare operations also include veterinary care and all health and welfare services provided to animals. This exemption shall be viewed broadly to avoid any impacts to the delivery of healthcare. Businesses that provide food, shelter and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals.

iv. Essential Retail. Food producers and service providers, including grocery stores, warehouse stores, furniture suppliers, big box stores, bodegas, liquor stores, gas stations, and convenience stores, farmers’ markets that sell food products and household staples. Retail outlets that sell pet food and pet products, including businesses that service pets for grooming or boarding. Food cultivation, including farming, ranching, fishing, and livestock. Food production, including the production of canned goods, bottled beverages, and other grocery items. Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods, or services directly to residences. Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery, drive-thru, carry-out. Catering so long as it’s for an Essential Business or Essential Government Function. Schools and other entities that typically provide free services to students or members of the public on a pick-up and take-away basis only. The restriction of delivery or carry-out does not apply to cafes or restaurants located within a hospital or medical facility. Laundromats, dry cleaners, and laundry service providers. Auto supply, auto and bicycle repair, hardware stores, and related facilities. Businesses that sell firearms or gun ranges, and businesses that sell or supply products needed for people to work from home. All essential retail operations must be performed in compliance with social distancing requirements of six feet to the extent possible.

v. Essential Services Necessary to Maintain Essential Operations of Residences or Other Essential Businesses. Trash and recycling collection, processing and disposal, mail and shipping services, building cleaning, maintenance and security, warehouse/distribution and fulfillment, storage for essential businesses, funeral homes, crematoriums, and cemeteries. Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, yard and maintenance crews, housekeepers, janitorial staff, pool cleaners, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operations of residence and Essential Businesses. Professional services, such as legal or accounting services, when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities. Businesses that supply other Essential Businesses or Residences with support or utilities needed to operate. Caregivers and helpers who provide services to senior and disabled individuals.

vi. News Media. Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services.

vii. Childcare and Adult Care Services. Childcare and adult care facilities whether owned or leased by the licensed operator of a childcare or adult care business, providing services that enable employees exempted in this Order to work as permitted.

viii. Infrastructure, Development, Operation and Construction. For example, public works construction, construction of housing, or other types of construction including commercial, manufacturing, airport operations, and aircraft manufacturing, maintenance or repair, water, sewer, gas, electrical, oil refining or other chemical refining, roads and highways, public transportation, solid waste, collection and removal, internet, engineering services or land surveying to included geo technical services and telecommunications systems (including the provision of essential global, national, and local infrastructure for computing services, business infrastructure, communications, and web-based services).

ix. Transportation. Businesses related to the operations, maintenance and construction, and manufacture of transportation services. For example, (a) Vehicle manufactures, automotive suppliers and parts departments, car dealerships, parts distributors, maintenance and repair facilities; (b) public transportation; (c) businesses supporting airport operations and rental car operations; (d) street and highway maintenance and construction; (e) gas stations and other fuel distribution businesses; (f) vehicles for hire, including public transportation services, Uber, Lyft, and taxicabs, that enable persons to travel to or from employers, service providers, or businesses exempted in this Order. People riding on public transportation must comply with the six-foot social distancing requirements to the greatest extent possible.

x. Airports and Related Operations. Airport and airline activities, operations, maintenance and repairs, Fixed Base Operators, and the hotels that serve these Essential Businesses.

xi. Professional Services. Professional services, such as legal or accounting services, insurance services, and real estate services to include leasing services for single or multifamily homes or transactions already under contract at the time of this order. Crisis counselling facilities or emergency adult and/or youth shelters. Any non-profit or NGO providing critical assistance to the residents of Montgomery County, as a result of a Disaster Declaration.

3. These infection control precautions apply to all Essential Businesses: (1) practice social distancing by requiring patrons, visitors, and employees to be separated by six (6) feet, to the extent possible; (2) provide access to hand washing facilities with soap and water or hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol; (3) post a sign in a conspicuous place at the public entrance to the facility instructing members of the public not to enter if they are experience symptoms of respiratory illness, including fever or cough; and (4) adhere to other general communicable disease control recommendations by public health authorities.

4. Grocery stores, supermarkets, warehouse stores, hospitals, and medical facilities are experiencing high levels of demand for a large number of products, requiring more deliveries from manufacturers and distribution centers to serve their customers. A number of Texas cities and local associations have implemented restrictions on delivery hours to stores to mitigate truck noise and traffic. Due to the need to deliver products as quickly and efficiently as possible during this critical timeframe, this Order hereby suspends all delivery hour restrictions for transport to or from any entity involved in the selling or distribution of food products, medicine, or medical supplies or equipment in Montgomery County for as long as this order is in effect.

5. If someone in a household has tested positive for COVID-19, all residents of the household are ordered to isolate at home until cleared by a public health authority or medical provider.

6. Nursing homes, retirement, and long-term care facilities shall prohibit non-essential visitors from accessing their facilities unless to provide critical assistance or for end of life visitation.

7. This Order shall be effective until 11:59 p.m. on April 12, 2020 or until it is either rescinded, superseded, or amended pursuant to applicable law.

8. Pursuant to Tex. Gov’t Code§ 418.173, any law enforcement agency in Montgomery County is hereby authorized to enforce this Order and the failure to comply with this Order is an offense under this Order and is punishable by a fine that does not exceed $1,000.00 or confinement in jail for a term that does not exceed 180 days or both.

IT IS SO ORDERED, SIGNED THIS 27TH DAY OF MARCH 2020.