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Questions from Residents about Judge’s 3rd Order Answered

Below are some of the questions received since the Judge’s 3rd Order went into effect at 11 p.m. on March 26, 2020. Following the QA is a copy of the Order and Exhibit A for reference.

QUESTIONS and ANSWERS REGARDING The “STAY at HOME, WORK SAFE” ORDER

The Hays County Judge signed a “Stay at Home, Work Safe” Order (“COVID Order #3”) on March 25, 2020.  It became effective at 11 p.m. on March 26th and will run until 4 a.m. on April 10th.  The Order directs everyone to remain at their residential property unless participating in an Essential Activity, which includes working at designated Essential Businesses or working in an Essential Government Function. The Order is meant to prevent community spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. It is not an order to close businesses. Rather, it is an Order to stay at home, because previous efforts to prevent spread of the virus were less effective than they needed to be.

Under COVID Order #3, a City may adopt more stringent rules within its corporate limits in Hays County. If you wish to conduct certain activities within a city’s corporate limits, you should also inquire with that municipality regarding additional rules.

The questions, below, are written verbatim, as they were received, without changes to spelling or grammar.

THE WORK GROUP HAS RECEIVED NUMEROUS COMPLAINTS ABOUT POSSIBLE NON-COMPLIANCE WITH COVID ORDER #3. MOST COMPLAINTS ARE NOT REFLECTED IN THE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS, BECAUSE THEY OFTEN DO NOT POSE A QUESTION. COMPLAINTS REGARDING POSSIBLE NON-COMPLIANCE SHOULD NOT BE SUBMITTED TO THIS FORUM. INSTEAD, THEY SHOULD BE MADE TO THE NON-EMERGENCY NUMBER OF YOUR LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY.

QUESTIONS

April 1, 2020

  1. (Comments from emails from Drive In) Just wanted to follow up so I can relay to my employees. The last email I received from you (Janice) was Sunday. You said the Judge would be the only one to change any orders and you would be meeting. Anita told me yesterday you all could make the decision to let us open. Any news for us? We have a very good campaign we can run.“Get Out, Go Home”If anyone gets out of their car at the Drive In during movies they will be asked to leave. We have tons of bills tomorrow that I can cancel, but I need to make the decision.  Employees, Movie Licensing, Food orders, etc. Still don’t understand, we are safer then most businesses if not all that are open.  People stay in the car.

Answer: The Office of General Counsel does not have the statutory authority to edit an Order from the Hays County Judge for purposes of a Declaration of Local Disaster. Only the Hays County Judge has the statutory authority to issue or modify orders on behalf of Hays County. There have been no changes to COVID Order #3. Therefore, all of our previous answers to this question still remain true.

Also, please note that Governor Abbott executed a new Executive Order yesterday, which starts on 4/2/30. That Order will supercede any order of the County Judge in regard to Essential Services or Essential Businesses. You can look at https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforce for a list of services that are qualified.  If you want to be added, you must contact TDEM at EssentialServices@tdem.texas.gov.

  1. I’m wondering if my daughter, whom I have primary custody of, is to stay in my possession or if the possession order is still active during the stay in place order?

Answer: COVID Order #3 does not have any effect on custody arrangements. As stated in Section 1, the Order does not prohibit the gathering of the members of a household. In the case of child custody, a court has decided the custodial arrangement of two households that share supervisory responsibility of children. That may continue, despite the Stay at Home order.

  1. I am a local real estate agent who stated a renovation project on my personal residence near the end of January, with intentions to sell the home later this year. Am I allowed to have my contractors and trades continue work? I have a couple of other people in my household and we need a bathroom completed, which is currently unusable.. I understand I can only have one trade in at a time and will comply. My flooring contractor is under the impression he cannot return until the 3rd order expires on 4/10, so for now I have exposed, unsealed concrete throughout my home in addition to the previously demoed bathroom that needs to be put back together. Thanks for the clarification!

Answer: The contractors on your renovation project may indeed continue to work under COVID Order #3. Renovations would be considered residential construction. All residential and commercial construction is considered an Essential Business under COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraph ii. However, such companies should implement precautions to protect employees and all activity shall be performed in compliance with social distancing guidelines in Exhibit A of the Order. If applicable, construction sites should limit site visitation to a single trade at one time in order to maintain social distancing standards.

Also, please note that Governor Abbott executed a new Executive Order yesterday, which starts on 4/2/30. That Order will supercede any order of the County Judge in regard to Essential Services or Essential Businesses. You can look at https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforce for a list of services that are qualified.  It appears contractors and trades are covered.

  1. I live in Reunion Ranch, technically City of Austin in Hays County. There are several houses on our street and in the development that are still under construction with crews continuing to work in close proximity to one another. I observe many of the workers closer than six feet and having lunch together in groups of 5-6 (at a minimum). I know that the City of Austin has restricted all construction that is not considered critical infrastructure. Is this also true for the Hays County Order? It doesn’t seem like it does any good for residents to be observing social distancing when we have several crews and workers in our neighborhoods coming in each day not abiding by these same practices. I know that vertical construction and new home construction are not considered critical infrastructure.

Answer: While we are not aware of each piece of the City of Austin’s order, in Hays County all residential and commercial construction is considered an Essential Business under COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraph ii. However, such companies should implement precautions to protect employees and all activity shall be performed in compliance with social distancing guidelines in Exhibit A of the Order. If applicable, construction sites should limit site visitation to a single trade at one time in order to maintain social distancing standards.

Also, please note that Governor Abbott executed a new Executive Order yesterday, which starts on 4/2/30. That Order will supercede any order of the County Judge in regard to Essential Services or Essential Businesses. You can look at https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforce for a list of services that are qualified.  If you want to be added, you must contact TDEM at EssentialServices@tdem.texas.gov.

  1. I have 2 questions: 1. I am trying to find out if our company is considered an essential business under the COVID-19 Hays County order. We manufacture and supply commercial equipment such as pumping/filtration systems for water treatment and architectural fountain equipment, sp lash pad/spray park equipment, and replacement parts required for operating equipment and water treatment to essential businesses currently operating for public works, commercial, and residential construction projects in Hays County (Example – Commercial playground/Spray Park/Pools and Fountain Construction). Are we considered as an Essential Service to Essential Businesses? Without our ability to supply and ship products, we are delaying construction projects to critical infrastructure sectors as referenced below.    Is there an application or a permit and/or documentation that employees need to carry to operate in Hays County during the current COVID-19 court order? Here is the background info for my inquiry:Essential Critical Infrastructure. Work necessary to the operations and maintenance of the critical infrastructure sectors, including public works construction, residential and commercial construction, airport operations, water, sewer, gas, electrical, oil refining, roads and highways, public transportation, solid waste collection and removal, internet, and telecommunications systems (including the provision of essential global, national, and local infrastructure for computing services, business infrastructure, communications, and web-based services), financial institutions, defense and national security-related operations, essential manufacturing operations provided that they carry out those services or that work in compliance with social distancing requirements of six feet, to the extent possible. Essential Businesses providing Essential Critical Infrastructure should implement precautions to protect employees and all activity shall be performed in compliance with social distancing guidelines attached hereto. Construction sites  should limit site visitation to a single trade at one time in order to maintain social distancing standards.

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, lawn and property maintenance and security, warehouse/distribution and fulfillment, trucking, storage for essential businesses, funeral homes, crematoriums and cemeteries. Professional services, such as legal or accounting services, when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities. Businesses that supply other essential businesses with support or supplies needed to operate, including laundromats, dry cleaners, and laundry service providers. We manufacture and supply pumping/filtration systems and equipment for water treatment used in the public works, commercial and residential sectors. We also sell components that are critical for contractors that are operating during this time and continue to get requests to ship components and systems.

Answer: Your company would be qualified as an Essential Business under COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraph ii and paragraph vi, as your work is necessary to the operations and maintenance of public works construction, as well as commercial and residential construction, and you supply other Essential Businesses with supplies needed to operate. Under COVID Order #3, you and your employees are not required to carry any particular document showing proof that you work for an Essential Business. However, although not required, if you happen to have any sort of identification badge, business cards, etc. that show you work for such Essential Business, it wouldn’t hurt to carry such identification with you.

Also, please note that Governor Abbott executed a new Executive Order yesterday, which starts on 4/2/30. That Order will supercede any order of the County Judge in regard to Essential Services or Essential Businesses. You can look at https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforce for a list of services that are qualified.  It appears your business would still be covered.

March 31, 2020

  1. Could someone clarify if dog grooming is considered essential or not? I assume with nail & hair salons, the answer is no, since it’s the same general idea. Any clarification would be super helpful! Thank you!

Answer: COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraph does indeed qualify veterinary care and all health and welfare services provided to animals as Essential Businesses. Grooming would qualify as an activity that addresses the health and welfare of animals. However doggie daycares or overnight boarding would not constitute such Essential Business, as defined in the Order, or promote social distancing recommended by the CDC.

  1. On a normal day of business I come into contact with less than 10 people.  I’m the only employee.  I sanitize and disinfect after each pet.  Social distancing is not an issues with owners leaving pets in backyards or crates out front.  Owners are never allowed inside the grooming area (trailer in my case). Taking only virtual payments.I’m unsure as the wording of the shelter-in-place, there sees to be a grey area for dog grooming, mobile in my case.  As groomers we are providing better hygiene for the dogs as well as some owners who need their pets maintained due to allergies and health issues.  Grooming does provide a professional health services for the well being of the pets just not the type that a veterinarian does.

I’ve seen some cities say dog grooming is an essential along with pet sitting, boarding and dog walking.  I was able to get clarification from Travis County that as long as I’m following the guidelines set in place, I am essential.

I’m looking for some clarification… can mobile dog groomers continue to operate under the shelter-in -place?

Answer: Yes, they may. COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraph does indeed qualify veterinary care and all health and welfare services provided to animals as Essential Businesses. Grooming would qualify as an activity that addresses the health and welfare of animals. However doggie daycares or overnight boarding would not constitute such Essential Business, as defined in the Order, or promote social distancing recommended by the CDC.

  1. Who do I inform if a daycare facility is violating that court order?

Answer: We would recommend contacting your local law enforcement agency via their non-emergency line. Under COVID Order #3, the Hays County Sheriff’s Office, Hays County Constables’ Offices, the Hays County Fire Marshal’s Office, and other peace officers, are authorized to enforce the order, within their discretion. A person who willfully disregards or conspires to willfully disregard the order is considered to have violated an order authorized by Chapter 418 of the Texas Government Code and is subject to a fine of up to $500 for each violation.

  1. I emailed before the order was in place but haven’t received a response. Can y’all please specify if salons/barber shops are considered essential.

With the new suggestion from the president, will the order be extended til the 30th?

Answer: At this time, COVID Order #3 does not qualify hair salons/barber shops as Essential Businesses. Currently, the order is only in place until 4 a.m. on April 10, 2020. We have not been made aware of any planned extension, although that is always subject to change based on the spread, or lack thereof, of COVID-19.

  1. I am HOA Manager at Sunfield in Buda and we have our own playgrounds – they are not fenced in. Has there been any official notice that people may not utilize playgrounds right now?

Answer: Under COVID Order #3, outdoor recreational or fitness activities are considered Essential Activities and are permitted so long as individuals comply with the social distancing requirements of six feet. However, we find it highly improbable that individuals can remain six foot apart and equipment be sanitized. Hays County has closed all its County parks, as well as other municipalities doing the same. Since you’re located in the City of Buda and they have a separate order in place, please make sure you consult the City directly to see what measures they have ordered.

  1. I am one of the pastors at The Connection Church. We are looking for ways to add a little bit of normalcy and hope to our community during this difficult time. We would like to have a drive-in church service. We would not allow people to exit their vehicles. The only people outside of a vehicle would be the musicians & pastor on stage (they would observe social distancing) and uniformed police officers for safety & compliance. We would also have a couple people directing traffic in and out of the parking lot to prevent accidents.We are committed to fighting the battle against Covid-19. However, we believe that a drive-in church would allow our community to come together while still practicing social-distancing. Can you let us know if this would be acceptable?

Answer: Currently, COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraph xxii provides that religious and worship services may only be provided by video or teleconference, and limits in-person staff to ten people or less when preparing for or conducting video or teleconference services. Such individuals must follow the social distancing guidelines including the six-foot social distancing rule. Drive-ins of most sorts are not considered Essential Businesses under COVID Order #3, including drive-in movie theaters.

  1. We are a small (total onsite personnel group 5-6) manufacturer providing HEB with Apple and Pumpkin Butter. Being a food producer our health standards are very high. Additionally we’ve implemented temperature (non-contact infra red) in the parking lot before entry and additional hand washing requirements (which were already safe with bleach to wash jars. We wear masks and hair nets all day everyday. Our space is 4,000 sq feet. We maintain safe social-distance space between us. Our employees live within a few miles of our facility. We’d like a decision to know if we are OK to operate tomorrow?

Answer: You are indeed authorized to operate your facility under COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraph iv and paragraph vi. You are a facility that prepares and serves food for delivery, as well as a business who provides essential services necessary to maintain essential operations of an Essential Business (in this case, a grocery store).

  1. Is the Judges order still in effect regarding daycare facilities in Hays county. I have been receiving correspondence from my daughters daycare that they are re-opened and are wanting head counts from parents who will be dropping off their children. I work for the the State so I am taking this shelter in home very seriously Since I am also considered high risk pregnancy at 25 weeks. My question is who do I inform if I believe that my daycare facility is violating the court order?

Answer: COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraph viii permits childcare facilities providing services that enable employees exempted under the order to work as permitted. However, such facilities shall observe the following practices: 1. Childcare must be carried out in groups of 10 or fewer children, each within the same group each day. Children shall not change from one group to another, and groups shall not comingle. If a facility cannot prevent comingling of more than one group of children, then that facility should limit its total number of children to 10. Unless necessitated by overriding health and safety considerations, childcare providers shall remain solely with one group of children and not change groups. Please note that, pursuant to Section 6, paragraph v of the Order, a municipality may provide stricter guidelines than this subsection. Therefore, if such childcare facility is located within a municipality, please contact that municipality directly as they may have a stricter measure in place regarding childcare services.

If you believe a violation of COVID Order #3 is occurring, we would recommend contacting your local law enforcement agency via their non-emergency line. Under COVID Order #3, the Hays County Sheriff’s Office, Hays County Constables’ Offices, the Hays County Fire Marshal’s Office, and other peace officers, are authorized to enforce the order, within their discretion. A person who willfully disregards or conspires to willfully disregard the order is considered to have violated an order authorized by Chapter 418 of the Texas Government Code and is subject to a fine of up to $500 for each violation.

March 30, 2020

  1. Answered in yesterday’s questions: “I provide child care for my daughters six children. She is a nurse and her husband works for the Post Office.  Both are essential employees and neither can work from home. I take care of the children in their home or mine. May I continue to drive the children from their home to mine and back as needed?  We live less than a half mile apart and will drive directly to homes with no stops or interaction with other people.”)  Additional Question – I also need to know if I can bring the children from their house to mine to care for them in my home and then take them back to their house at the end of the day.

Answer: Yes, you may also bring the children back and forth between their residence and yours. Under COVID Order #3, Section 3, individuals are permitted to leave their residence to care for a family member or pet in another household, as such activity is considered an Essential Activity.

  1. Answered in yesterday’s questions: “There are families on our street in (removed name) (at least 4-5) that congregate in the middle of our street and all let their kids play together, yet I am staying home with my child inside, except to go in the back yard.  Aren’t these people violating the order to stay at home?  And isn’t this why are kids are home from school so that they aren’t interacting with each other right now during this crisis??) –Additional Question So I’m assuming nothing can be done then?

Answer: Individuals not complying with COVID Order #3 are at risk of penalty. The Hays County Sheriff’s Office, Hays County Constables’ Offices, the Hays County Fire Marshal’s Office, and other peace officers, are hereby authorized to enforce this order, within their discretion. A person who willfully disregards or conspires to willfully disregard this order is considered to have violated an order authorized by Chapter 418 of the Texas Government Code and is subject to a fine of up to $500 for each violation.

March 29, 2020

  1. Can I do construction work where there is limited or possible no other people and we can easily maintain 6 feet separation??  I have a project in the City of San Marcos , a store that is supposed to be opening soon and i have it work that needs to be finished. I want to be sure I am following the rules.

Answer: Yes, you may. All residential and commercial construction is considered an Essential Business under COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraph ii. However, such companies should implement precautions to protect employees and all activity shall be performed in compliance with social distancing guidelines in Exhibit A of the Order. If applicable, construction sites should limit site visitation to a single trade at one time in order to maintain social distancing standards.

  1. There are families on our street in (removed name) (at least 4-5) that congregate in the middle of our street and all let their kids play together, yet I am staying home with my child inside, except to go in the back yard.  Aren’t these people violating the order to stay at home?  And isn’t this why are kids are home from school so that they aren’t interacting with each other right now during this crisis??

Answer: Group gatherings are not permitted under COVID Order #3, unless they fall under an exception of Essential Activities or Essential Businesses, and even then, they should comply with all the social distancing measures explained in Exhibit A of COVID Order #3. As playing together (presumably close in proximity to one another) in a group would not fall under either of those exceptions, such group gatherings are not permitted by the Stay at Home Order.

  1. I am suppose to pick up my child in another county as this is my weekend with her. Am I allowed to drive there and back?

Answer: COVID Order #3 does not have any effect on custody arrangements. As stated in Section 1, the Order does not prohibit the gathering of the members of a household. In the case of child custody, a court has decided the custodial arrangement of two households that share supervisory responsibility of children. That may continue, despite the Stay at Home order.

  1. My inquiry is regarding Pet Care in the private, non-veterinary industry for businesses that offer the following services: Dog Daycare, Grooming, Over night Boarding   Do these specific services fall into the definition of “ Health and Welfare of animals” as it relates to the intent of the Stay At Home Order?

Answer: COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraph does indeed qualify veterinary care and all health and welfare services provided to animals as Essential Businesses. Grooming would qualify as an activity that addresses the health and welfare of animals. However doggie daycares or overnight boarding would not constitute such Essential Business, as defined in the Order, or promote social distancing recommended by the CDC.

  1. Our drive in is all outdoor.  We can remove all benches. We have a full kitchen which is served out of a window, just like a fast food place. Our business model during this time is: People show up, don’t even have to roll down a window, we can check them in, show them their car spot, they can order food online and pay, and we drop it off by their car. We can literally have people just sit in their car. ALL other restaurants can be open and have people pick up food. We are allowed to serve food according to the county for pickup. What’s the reason for not being able to have a movie on while people pick up food? I just witnessed 30 ppl in 30 min walk into a liquor store.  All touching a handle, nothing being whipped down. Also 30 people walk into a pizza place to pick up pizza. Not at the same time but one after the other picking up food. We can have people sit in their car and touch nothing. That makes no logic or sense for us not to be able to show a movie while people pick up food. Also,  we have bathrooms that can stay locked.  No dining area.  No playground. Here is the previous conversation.  There has to be some exemption here.  I feel this is a type of discrimination against my business and it’s hurting lots of people.  My employees, their families, and us personally as well.  People stay in the car, way safer then picking up pizza at a pizza place, coffee shops, liquor stores etc.

Answer: Currently, a Drive-In Theatre is not included in the description of Essential Businesses of COVID Order #3. Keep in mind that the Order is a “Stay at Home, Work Safe” order. In other words, it is not an order to close businesses.  It is an order to stay home and avoid the risks outside the home, unless a person is participating in an Essential Activity. We agree that one aspect of a Drive-In Theatre, remaining in vehicles while viewing a film, does not present significant risk. However, most modern venues have common areas, dining areas, public restrooms, and other spaces in which community spread of the virus could occur.  A future Order that permitted this sort of activity would have to consider those risk factors.

If a restaurant (or other portion of the facility) that prepares and serves food, BUT ONLY for delivery or carry out remains functioning, such activity would be considered Essential Business under COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraph iv. Keeping the kitchen open and serving food would not qualify any other portion of the business as Essential Business, unless it is also included in the description of Essential Activities or Essential Businesses. As a case in point, Wimberley Glass Works manufactures products for residential and commercial construction projects, but they also give tours and classes at their place of business.  They are not currently conducting tours or teaching classes, because it does not fall within the definition of Essential Business. They are, however, continuing to manufacture for construction projects.

  1. If I go to the grocery store to buy for my own family and text my best friend to see if she needs anything from the store, would it be in violation to take said groceries to her house? I know I would probably have to drop them at the door and go back home. Her son is sick (no covid) so I wanted to be nice and see if they need anything.

Answer: Under COVID Order #3, Section 3, you would indeed be permitted to obtain necessary services or supplies (including food, household consumer products, products necessary to maintain safety, sanitization, and other essential operation of residences) and deliver those services or supplies to others in need. Such activity would be considered an Essential Activity.

  1. I am a small tutoring business in Wimberley that provides services to the local community including San Marcos and Austin.  Like many small businesses today, I am trying to recreate ways to keep my school afloat. In doing so, I have gone to online tutoring and homeschooling, which is keeping some income coming in for a skeleton staff and myself. However, this format has not been fully effective in the learning process of some of students. Many of my students have learning, emotional, mental, and/or physical differences and while many are adapting to this new normal of learning some are having difficulty. For these students, will I be within compliance if I tutor them personally at my business? I would like to note that I do have a sanitation station at the entrance to follow COVID-19 safety protocol as well as have bleach and water mixtures to wipe down surfaces.

Answer: Under COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraph xiv, certain educational activities are considered Essential Businesses for purposes of distance learning; however, in-person, private tutoring is not described as an Essential Business. We would recommend online tutoring for the duration of this Order (less than 2 weeks). The County Judge will reassess the situation near the end of that period and make adjustments, where appropriate in his determination.

  1. Thank you for your quick response! I apologize for how vague my question was. This is regarding child visitation between my home and his father’s home. I am the custodial parent and have our son. How am I to get him to his dad’s? Is that even allowed? I am concerned about what exposure he may get going back and forth.

Answer: Yes, it is permitted. COVID Order #3 does not have any effect on custody arrangements. As stated in Section 1, the Order does not prohibit the gathering of the members of a household. In the case of child custody, a court has decided the custodial arrangement of two households that share supervisory responsibility of children. That may continue, despite the Stay at Home order.

  1. Supposedly, the Declaration of Disaster (due to Public Health Emergency), as well as the Stay at Home and Curfew Orders were issued to protect the community at large, as well as a person’s family. The impression given was that they were to help prevent further spread of the “highly contagious” COVID-19. In my opinion, any person who can’t abstain from playing golf for fifteen days probably can’t be expected to honor any safety precautions anyone tried to implement at a golf course. How did you determine that a golf course is an essential business? When you ordered people to stay at home, how did you determine it was essential and safe for people to go play golf? How will you ensure a six foot distance requirement will be adhered to on the golf course? How did you determine no one will touch a pole in a pin cup, or touch a cup when removing a ball? How can you ensure a golfer will not, unknowingly, carry the virus home to his/her family members? Is a four plus hour visit to a grocery store acceptable? Why would a four plus hour round of golf be ok? If all county parks are to be closed, why is it ok for city parks within the county to be open?

Answer: While golfing does qualify as an Essential Activity (as long as it can be done while maintaining standards for social distancing), the ancillary services and activities at a golf club would each need to be examined separately for compliance. For instance, the golf club restaurant must offer take-out food only, and the gift shop, golf shop, spa, and/or gym would not qualify as Essential Businesses. If the course owner can achieve a way to allow golfers to participate in this outdoor activity without causing the ancillary services to violate COVID Order #3, then it would be permissible. While everyone is encouraged to stay at home, and only leave for Essential Activities, COVID Order #3 does not place time limitations on any Essential Activity.

  1. I provide child care for my daughters six children. She is a nurse and her husband works for the Post Office.  Both are essential employees and neither can work from home. I take care of the children in their home or mine. May I continue to drive the children from their home to mine and back as needed?  We live less than a half mile apart and will drive directly to homes with no stops or interaction with other people.

Answer: You are indeed able to continue traveling to and from your daughter’s residence. Under COVID Order #3, Section 3, individuals are permitted to leave their residence to care for a family member or pet in another household, as such activity is considered an Essential Activity.

  1. Who was/is serving on the day care task force that Judge Becerra mentioned reviewed the closure of daycares in Hays County?

Answer: Our understanding is that Judge Becerra was consulting Mayors and staff from different municipalities within Hays County. The “task force” he mentioned is not a formal body, but an ad hoc working group that provides input on that topic. Now that childcare has been reformatted under COVID Order #3, it has not been a topic of ongoing debate or discussion, although our understanding is that one or more municipalities may have continued with a closure order for childcare facilities only within their corporate limits.

March 28, 2020

  1. We perform accounting, payroll and tax services. The order states we are considered an essential business under professional services, however, we are wondering if we are currently able to have clients come into the office to prepare their income taxes as long as we practice social distancing?

Answer: Professional services, such as accounting services, are indeed considered Essential Businesses under COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraph xviii. However, those services are only considered essential to the extent that the activity has been ordered to continue by a state entity, or to the extent that the service can be provided in compliance with Exhibit A of the Order. Since income tax deadlines have been extended and have not currently been ordered to continue at this time, you can only complete tax preparation if you can do it in accordance with Exhibit A of the Order.

  1. My question is in the physical activity section some of the allowed events include biking, hiking, running, etc. would fishing also fall into this category of approved outdoor recreational events as long as social distancing is followed while performing this activity?

Answer: Yes, fishing would be considered an outdoor recreational activity, and therefore an Essential Activity under COVID Order #3, Section 3. However, you must comply with the social distancing requirements of six feet.

  1. A resident is having a house built and wants to know if he and his wife are allowed to go visit the construction site to check on the progress?

Answer: Unless the couple is traveling to the home currently being built in order to provide input or essential products to the construction crews (Essential Businesses under COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraph ii), such travel would not constitute an Essential Activity under COVID Order #3, Section 3.

  1. My girlfriend works for an exempt business as they serve the economically disadvantaged. She is in the extreme risk category with multiple health issues, including severe asthma. Her employer knows about these risk factors.

All other employees are allowed to telecommute. There is an existing way which would allow her the remote access she would need to do her job as their accountant. She has requested this remote access multiple times, and that request is being denied. Her boss doesn’t wasn’t to deal with any possible inconvenience of her not being there to answer her questions.

In addition, multiple employees are regularly coming into the office, are entering her office, and are disturbing the paperwork on her desk. She’s tried to request the other employees to not do this, but they and her boss persist.

She has requested that a schedule be followed for when other employees will be in the office, but this is being ignored because “they just need to pop in for a few minutes.” or “I’m going to stay 6′ away so it’s not a big deal.”

She is afraid of going into the office, but if she refuses she feels she will be fired. She’s having to choose between her job and risking her life.

What can we do?

Answer: While Hays County sincerely hopes that all employers are conforming to COVID Order #3, as well as all orders put in place by Governor Abbott, Hays County is not in a position to dictate what a private employer may or may not require of their employees. If you feel like you have a legal issue, Hays County would suggest you contact an attorney of your choosing in order to consult with them about your issue or concerns.

  1. Is all Commercial Construction considered essential?  For example commercial playground or recreational structure construction that is part of a larger project.

Answer: All residential and commercial construction is considered an Essential Business under COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraph ii. However, such companies should implement precautions to protect employees and all activity shall be performed in compliance with social distancing guidelines in Exhibit A of the Order. If applicable, construction sites should limit site visitation to a single trade at one time in order to maintain social distancing standards.

  1. Just found out that San Marcos Premium outlets will open on Monday, due to they are considered Essential and do not have to follow the Stay at Home? Mind you the store or some of the stores will be closed but the office, food court, Vitamin World and Scrubs will be operating but how are they except???Shopping at the outlet mall is not essential and the mall attracts MANY shoppers from All over….Never local…really, there is data to back that up. I saw your FB post on clarification of what is essential and not and I dont connect the lines. Please explain. Thank You for your hard work and continued support and helpful information.

Answer: Some stores in the outlet malls can be considered Essential Businesses under COVID Order #3, Section 4. While it would be impossible for Hays County to evaluate each store located in the outlets, we can address some of the specific stores you’ve mentioned. For example, you mention the food court. Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or carry out are considered Essential Businesses under Section 4, paragraph iv. While Vitamin World wouldn’t be considered a pharmacy, they do provide essential vitamins needed for the health and well-being of the public; therefore, they would likely be considered a related healthcare service under Section 4, paragraph i. Likewise, Scrubs appears to be a business which provides medical supplies and proper attire for those involved in the medical field. As such, a business like Scrubs would be considered an Essential Business, as they are a supplier to healthcare operations. Other businesses may not be considered Essential, and each business should carefully consider its qualification under COVID Order #3.

  1. I am the custodial parent of my daughter and she is currently with me.  Her dad has standard visitation (every Thursday and every other weekend)  and lives nearby.  What is the recommendation for visitation?

Answer: COVID Order #3 does not have any effect on custody arrangements. As stated in Section 1, the Order does not prohibit the gathering of the members of a household. In the case of child custody, a court has decided the custodial arrangement of two households that share supervisory responsibility of children. That may continue, despite the Stay at Home order.

  1. I received a call today asking why Cabelas is opened?  How do they qualify as an essential business?

Answer: While Cabela’s offers an assortment of goods and services, their goods do include food products, pet food, and pet supplies. Cabela’s also prepares and serves food for take-out. These goods and services qualify Cabela’s as an Essential Business under COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraphs iii and iv.

  1. I have my own landscape company and was wondering if it falls under the essential workers/business category? We do maintenance as well.

Answer: Lawn and property maintenance are considered essential services necessary to maintain essential operations of residences or other Essential Businesses under COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraph vi. Therefore, it sounds as though your company would be qualified as an Essential Business.

  1. please, there are many of us college students who have lost their jobs and can’t pay our rents in the 1st. We have received 979 signatures from San Marcos residents who are trying to show that we need time to pay our rent! We have no jobs right now. MY QUESTION: why are San Marcos residents having to pay bills when this city has is on lockdown?

Answer: In the context of the Local Disaster Declaration related to COVID-19, Hays County does not have the authority to regulate the financial decisions of other public or private entities.

  1. I  own a Vape Store in San Marcos.  We have Vape Juice, and the delivery systems for the Vape juice.  Along with CBD and Kratom. It has been Deemed that Vapor Stores are non essential.I have had customers call me, text me and email me About being open today. We have been observing all the Guidelines put forth. we wear gloves, wipe down the doors every time a customer leaves the shop with antiseptic wipes. Wipe down our credit card machine, have the customers process their own credit cards, clean the countertops with antiseptic wipes, and even wipe down the chairs and have offered to the customer curbside delivery, maintain Social Distances.  Several have said that they would just have to go back to smoking if they could not get their vape product. We also sell CBD that is used for Health Reasons.

Answer: Your diligence in establishing CDC standards at your shop is appreciated. However, a Vape Shop is not included in the description of Essential Businesses of COVID Order #3. Keep in mind that the Order is a “Stay at Home, Work Safe” order. In other words, it is not an order to close businesses.  It is an order to stay home and avoid the risks outside the home, unless a person is participating in an Essential Activity.

  1. The Optometrist near me is still seeing routine visits and other non-urgent visits under the pretense that if the patient feels the need to be seen sooner, than she will see them. Is this against the stay at home order?

Answer: Under COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraph i, essential healthcare operations are considered Essential Businesses; however, the Order is clear that elective medical procedures ARE NOT considered essential and therefore should not be occurring.

  1. A builder at a new home development is advertising that they are open to go see their homes.  Is that allowed?

Answer: While, residential and commercial construction is considered an Essential Business under COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraph ii, if someone is traveling to the homes currently being built simply to look at them, such travel would not constitute an Essential Activity under COVID Order #3, Section 3.

  1. We are a Daycare Facility in Hays county. I have 2 questions in regards to the 3rd order issued by Judge Becerra, the on that is currently in effect.   First, my interpretation of the order is that we can provide services only to parents who are employees of Essential Businesses, and not to parents who are not employees exempted under the order as Essential. To be clear, if we have a parent who is working from home for a non-essential business but having trouble working because they need to care for their children, would they be able to bring their child to the child care facility in order to allow them to work at home?  Second, I want to ensure that we are %100 compliant. Our address is 2381 Bebee Rd. When getting permits recently for converting to commercial, all permits were through the county, the city of Kyle specifically said we were not in their jurisdiction. For purposes of this order, we are under county not municipality jurisdiction, correct?

Answer: Under COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraph viii, childcare facilities are only exempted if they are providing services that enable employees exempted in the Order to work as permitted. Your interpretation of the Order is correct, as a childcare facility should only be providing services to employees exempted in the Order. When searching your business address, it appears that your address falls just outside of the city limits of the City of Kyle. In an abundance of caution, we recommend you inquire with the City of Kyle as well.

  1. (1). Section 3(v) states we can travel to care for a family member or a pet in another household. What about “significant others”? Can we travel to take care of them? Do unmarried couples qualify under Texas Law as “family”?Can I travel to care for the pet of someone outside of my “family” membership?(2). Section 4(ii) lists Essential Critical Infrastructure that is exempted from this Order. Natural gas pipelines are not included in the list. Can we assume you are forbidding all construction activities on pipelines in Hays County until April 10th?(3). Section 5 – I am exceedingly disappointed that the “citizens” are not included in your list of “Essential Governmental Functions.” (that’s not a question – just a comment).

Answer: A significant other and unmarried couples would qualify as family members under COVID Order #3, Section 3. You may travel to take care of a pet at another household, even if that household is not a family member, as that travel would still be considered an Essential Activity under Section 3. COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraph ii does list work necessary to the operations and maintenance of critical infrastructure sectors to include gas.

  1. How will monthly probation meeting work with the stay -at – home?

Answer: Under COVID Order #3, Section 5, Essential Government Functions that provide for the health, safety, and welfare of the public shall continue. However, it is up to each governmental body to determine which functions are essential. Please make sure to contact your probation officer directly to determine what action is most appropriate for you, as it is likely their office has made significant changes due to COVID-19. If you cannot locate your probation officer’s direct phone number, the main number to the Hays County Community Supervision and Corrections Department is (512) 353-5892.

  1. My clarification that I need is… childcare providers shall remain solely with one group of children and not change groups. Does this mean it has to be the same staff all day with no break or can we, as long as it’s always the same 2 staff, have one staff work 7-1 and a second staff work 1-6.

Answer: Under COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraph viii, childcare providers shall (among the other requirements) remain solely with one group of children and not change groups. Therefore, it would be permissible for you to have a shift change with one shift going home as another shift arrives, so long as those staff members aren’t leaving one group of children to move onto another group of children. Please note that several municipalities have instituted stronger regulations on childcare services than what are in place under COVID Order #3, so if you use a childcare facility located within a municipality in Hays County, please contact the municipality directly to determine if any more stringent regulations are in place.

  1. How are we supposed to be handling visitation during the shelter in place? We obviously want to follow the order and keep everyone safe and healthy.

Answer: Our answer to this question would vary widely, depending on what type of visitation to which you are referring (e.g. custodial visitation of children, jail visitation, nursing home visitation, etc.). Please email us back with more information so that we can address your concern fully.

  1. My wife and I own an Indoor Baseball/Softball facility. Earlier this year we completed an outdoor turf baseball field that is adjacent to our building. I fully understand and agree that my indoor facility cannot be open or operating but was wanting to know if I could allows families to rent out the field so they can get outside and run around, hit ground balls, throw the baseball, hit the baseball, etc. I wanted to offer our field at a discount knowing this is crazy times for everyone but wanting to also help the community of families with children who want to get outside and have some sort of normalcy with each other. The gentleman on the phone with the county told me this would be considered essential business for using the field as we are offering wellness activities with the understanding that we still abide by the 6 ft rule for social distancing and minimize the amount of people that are there at one time. I am looking to get a written approval to be able to operate the use of the field while keeping the indoor facility locked up so no one is allowed inside.

Answer: The gentleman you spoke to on the phone is correct. Under COVID Order #3, Section 3, a family could engage in outdoor recreational activities, provided that they comply with social distancing requirements of six feet, as that activity would be considered an Essential Activity.

  1. Here is a screen shot of another drive in opening after being closed. We took a huge hit refunding hundreds of dollars today. My employees can’t work, and it’s very sad. Please consider us to open as lots of Drive In Theaters are staying open because people sit in their own car.

Answer: Currently, a Drive-In Theatre is not included in the description of Essential Businesses of COVID Order #3. Keep in mind that the Order is a “Stay at Home, Work Safe” order. In other words, it is not an order to close businesses.  It is an order to stay home and avoid the risks outside the home, unless a person is participating in an Essential Activity. We agree that one aspect of a Drive-In Theatre, remaining in vehicles while viewing a film, does not present significant risk. However, most modern venues have common areas, dining areas, public restrooms, and other spaces in which community spread of the virus could occur.  A future Order that permitted this activity would have to consider those risk factors.

March 27, 2020

  1. Can I continue to drive with my teen daughter for driving lessons if we are not getting out of the car anywhere?

Answer: While you are encouraged to stay at home, you and your daughter are welcome to continue driving lessons if you are engaging in any Essential Activity, as detailed in COVID Order #3, Section 3. Those Essential Activities include things such as: obtaining medical supplies or medication, visiting a health care professional, or obtaining supplies needed to work from home; obtaining food, pet supplies, household consumer products, etc.; caring for a family member or pet in another household; performing or obtaining services from Essential Business; and returning home from or to another jurisdiction.

  1. Our neighborhood held a “car parade” last weekend where we followed each other in cars through the neighborhood honking and waving to everyone who was on their porch. No one left their vehicles. It brought so much joy. We had planned to do it again this Saturday. Is this something we can continue with the new stay at home order? Thanks for your time.

Answer: It doesn’t sound as though the car parade qualifies as an Essential Activity under COVID Order #3, Section 3. Therefore, individuals should not leave their residence to perform such activity, unless it is coincidental to an Essential Activity, as described in Section 3.

  1. I live in my van by myself and sometimes park at Walmart.  If I am asked to move, and I drive to another parking lot during non-curfew hours, will I be arrested, ticketed or fined?

Answer:  Pursuant to COVID Order #3, Section 6, paragraph iv, individuals experiencing homelessness are exempt from the Order. Meaning, if you are homeless, you are not required to comply with the Stay at Home, Work Safe Order. However, the Order does state that you shall try to maintain social distancing of at least six feet from other people. You are also strongly encouraged to obtain shelter, where it is available.

  1. My fiancé and I were suppose to get married on April 4th in Hay’s county, but now with this new order we know that we have to change some things. We were wondering if we could still hold our ceremony on April 4th with just immediate family (parents and siblings) at our private venue that is on around 30 acres of land. Our officiant is my fiancés father so there will literally just be family there. We are planning on coming back when all this craziness is over to have a reception party, but we would really love to at least get married at this venue on our date.

Answer: Generally, weddings are not permitted to be held under COVID Order #3. However, if your wedding is limited to members of your household on your family’s residential property, then it could be in compliance with the “Stay at Home, Work Safe” Order, which requires you to remain upon your residential property. Importantly, this does not mean that extended friends and family should attend the ceremony, as that would create a situation that defeats the purpose of the Order. If that is your intention, then you should consider postponing the ceremony until the Local Disaster Declaration has been lifted and COVID Order #3 has been rescinded.

  1. Would you please provide a list of Essential and Non-essential jobs that apply to the emergency order by Hays County to Stay at Home?

Answer: A full list of Essential Businesses is included in COVID Order #3, Section 4. Hays County is currently working on a shorter, more condensed flyer that will assist you in determining whether a business is considered an Essential Business. Some more popular categories of Essential Businesses include: healthcare operations (including veterinary care), construction operations, airport operations, water, sewer, gas, electrical, oil refining, public transportation, solid waste collection and removal, internet, telecommunications, grocery stores, hardware stores, restaurants that provide drive-through and take-out options only, childcare services, auto repair, banks, news media, plumbers, electricians, mail services, legal services, accounting services, hotels and motels, video religious services, etc.

  1. We’re getting some questions from viewers asking if it’s okay to go to Starbucks or get a car wash with the stay-at-home order. Is that still allowed or would they get ticketed?

Answer: Food services that prepare and serve food, but for only delivery and carry out are considered Essential Businesses under COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraph iv. Therefore, you are permitted to travel to and from Starbucks, as it would be considered an Essential Business. Gas Stations are considered Essential Businesses under COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraph ix. Therefore, if a gas station has a car wash that remains open, you are permitted to utilize such car wash facility. If the car wash is not at a gas station, it is likely still exempted under Section 4, paragraph ix, as long as patrons remain in the vehicle or the business is conducted in such a manner that people are not gathered in one place, particularly inside, while waiting on the attendant to complete their work.

  1. If a person is homeless if not residing in a hotel, and cannot go to work to pay the hotel fee, can they be evicted which would essentially make them homeless.   The attached states that homeless people need to seek shelter which they have in the hotel.

Answer:  Pursuant to COVID Order #3, Section 6, paragraph iv, individuals experiencing homelessness are exempt from the Order. Meaning, if you are homeless, you are not required to comply with the Stay at Home, Work Safe Order. However, the Order does state that you shall try to maintain social distancing of at least six feet from other people. You are also strongly encouraged to obtain shelter, where it is available. There is a difference between the words “need” and “strongly urged.”  Homeless individuals are not being “ordered” to seek shelter.

  1. I operate a business that I believe falls under the Essential Business designation and would like to obtain confirmation of this designation to make sure that we stay in compliance with the new ordinance.  My Business falls under the convenience store designation / definition.  We offer food, sodas, snacks, gum. energy drinks, bottled water, chips, a large variety of office supplies, Laser Toner Cartridges, Ink Jet Cartridges,  writing tablets, Wite-out, copy paper, paper clips, post notes, rulers, staples, assorted ballpoint pen options, colored pencil lead, assorted color paper, assorted textured paper, bubble mailers in different sizes, card stock, mailing envelops, self-adhesive fasteners, replacement ink carts for calculators and adding machines, paper for calculators / adding and adding machines, staple removers, ethernet cables, hanging file folders, recordable storage devices, stickers, cbd wellness products, dog food and pet treats,  vape and other products.

Answer:  Yes, you are correct that your business falls under the convenience store definition. Pursuant to COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraph iii, grocery stores, warehouse stores, big-box stores, liquor stores, gas stations and convenience stores, and/or farmers’ markets that sell food products, household staples, office supplies, and hardware are considered Essential Businesses.

  1. I read through the 3rd order related to COVID-19 and found a glaring oversight.  Veterinary medicine should be specifically included in the list of essential businesses.

Answer: COVID-Order #3, Section 4, paragraph i, defines Essential Healthcare Operations to include veterinary care and all health and welfare services provided to animals.

  1. Is a business that is in a wear house that sells online and ships and distributes fabric, thread, quilting supplies for hobbyists an essential business? They have decided to stay open due to section 4-vi. They say that since we are a shipping and distribution company, we are allowed to stay open. Is this section only referring to shipping and distribution for   What had previously been deemed an “essential business” or any company that ships and distributes non-essential items?

Answer: Warehouse stores that are suppliers of household staples are considered Essential Businesses under COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraph iii.

  1. Are parents that work at loan company part of the essential employees.  But what if a child has grandparents that watch them and the children live with them.  Are the children still able to come back to day cares.

Answer: Consumer lenders, and sales and finance lenders are considered financial institutions that qualify as an Essential Business under COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraph x. Under the Order, childcare facilities may provide services to any individual that is an employee of such Essential Business. However, several municipalities have instituted stronger regulations on childcare services than what are in place under COVID Order #3, so if you use a childcare facility located within a municipality in Hays County, please contact the municipality directly to determine if any more stringent regulations are in place.

  1. Is this something Hays County can help provide? A letter is needed for a resident to keep their child’s placement at group home.

Answer:  Providing letters do not fall within the parameters of the authority vested in Hays County Officials; however, pursuant to COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraph xvii, Residential facilities and shelters for seniors, adults, children and animals (including students who have no other option but to remain on campus at a lower or higher educational institution) are considered Essential Businesses and are thus permitted to perform their services.

  1. My girlfriend does not have a stable internet connection at her place of residence, and due to Texas State’s Online classes, she may have trouble accessing classwork. Would it be against the order for her to work on her homework at my place of residence, where I do have a stable internet connection?

Answer: Distance Education is referenced in and supported by COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraph xiv. While it does not reference a person leaving a residence to find internet access, it is reasonable that your girlfriend would need to travel somewhere to achieve those ends, and your residence is probably a much better location for maintaining social distancing and achieving the goals of COVID Order #3 than, for instance, the university library or other similar venues.

  1. I was wanting to know about the pet care industry is it considered essential?

Answer: COVID-Order #3, Section 4, paragraph i, defines Essential Healthcare Operations to include veterinary care and all health and welfare services provided to animals.

  1. I have received two or three phone calls from parents who are telling me that daycare centers are forcing them to pay tuition even though the parents do not need the daycare due to the stay at home order. They are telling them that their child is not guaranteed a spot back in their daycare center if they do not pay. Is there anything that the county can do?

Answer: While COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraph viii qualifies childcare facilities providing services that enable employees exempted in the Order to work as permitted, the County does not have the authority to regulate the financial decisions of individual childcare facilities.

  1. Hello, would a senior graduation photo shoot on Texas state campus (outside only) be permissible during the stay at home order?

Answer: Photographers and photography sessions have not been deemed as Essential Activities or Essential Businesses under COVID Order #3, therefore such services should not be provided during the pendency of COVID Order #3.

  1. Hello! I’m a wedding officiant and I perform many weddings in Hays County–and my understanding of both Hays and Travis county shelter in place orders is that I should not be traveling to wedding ceremonies. Is this true? Am I allowed to marry couples in my front yard? if it’s just me and them & we stay 3 feet away?  My couple already has their license….I am most concerned because (removed name) has closed their office but is keeping their restrooms and changing rooms open and telling couples they can use them so I have a couple who wants to still travel from Houston on April 5th to get married.  I don’t want to violate the law but its hard if the venue is staying open to say no. Can you give me some clarity on the shelter in place?  Can we travel there if we stay 6 feet apart? Can someone contact (removed name) and require them to close down as they are violating orders?

Answer: COVID Order #3 is a directive to Stay Home unless a person is traveling for certain Essential Activities. Attending or participating in a wedding that is not located at one’s own residential property is in violation of COVID Order #3. Venue owners that encourage violation of COVID Order #3 will be subject to the same penalty as anyone participating in that unpermitted activity.

  1. Is Fat Quarter Shop considered Essential Business? If yes, how is it considered to be Essential?

Answer: If Fat Quarter Shop is a warehouse store that supplies household staples, it would be considered an Essential Businesses under COVID Order #3, Section 4, paragraph iii.

  1. I am the owner of the (removed name) Golf Course. I am hopeful the course can stay open based on section 3 (iii) of the order regarding recreational activities. We have met all the requirements about spacing and sanitization and will do so also with the new order. Below are two articles about courses staying open in San Antonio and Travis County. We will adhere to all CDC, State, and local requirements.  I am requesting that the Golf Course remain open, conditioned upon meeting all CDC, State, and local requirements.

Answer: While golfing does qualify as an Essential Activity (as long as it can be done while maintaining standards for social distancing), the ancillary services and activities at a golf club would each need to be examined separately for compliance. For instance, the golf club restaurant must offer take-out food only, and the gift shop, golf shop, spa, and/or gym would not qualify as Essential Businesses. If the course owner can achieve a way to allow golfers to participate in this outdoor activity without causing the ancillary services to violate COVID Order #3, then it would be permissible.

3rd ORDER RELATED TO COVID-19 BY HAYS COUNTY JUDGE RUBEN BECERRA
“STAY AT HOME, WORK SAFE”

WHEREAS, on March 13, 2020, a Declaration of State of Disaster was issued by Governor Abbott to take additional steps to prepare for, respond to, and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 to protect the health and welfare of Texans; and

WHEREAS, On March 15, 2020, a Declaration of Local Disaster was issued by the Hays County Judge to allow Hays County to take measures to reduce the possibility of exposure to COVID-19 and promote the health and safety of Hays County residents utilizing state and federal resources made available with the declaration, which was continued for 120 days by the Hays County Commissioners Court on March 16, 2020; and

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

WHEREAS, the Centers on Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) recommends an “All of Community” approach focused on slowing the transmission of COVID-19 through social distancing to reduce illness and death, while minimizing social and economic impacts; and

WHEREAS, on March 19, 2020, Governor Abbott issued Executive Order GA 08 Relating to COVID-19 Preparedness and Mitigation stating people shall avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people and closed all schools until April 3, 2020; and

WHEREAS, the County Judge’s previous Orders have not achieved the desired outcome in combatting COVID-19, and since there have been 11 confirmed cases of COVID-19 within Hays County and the threat of community spread of the disease within Hays County warrants this 3rd Order;

WHEREAS, because of the risk of the rapid spread of the virus, and the need to protect the most vulnerable members of the community, this “Stay at Home, Work Safe” Order requires all individuals residing anywhere within Hays County to stay at home, with exceptions and clarifications provided, below;

NOW, THEREFORE, UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF TEXAS GOVERNMENT CODE SECTION 418.108, I, RUBEN BECERRA HEREBY ORDER AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1. STAY AT HOME, WORK SAFE.

Effective as of 11 p.m. on March 26, 2020, and continuing until 4 a.m. on April 10, 2020, all individuals currently living within Hays County are ordered to stay at home at their place of residence. For the purposes of this Order, residences include hotels, motels, shared rentals, and similar facilities. To the extent individuals are using shared or outdoor spaces, they must at all times as reasonably as possible maintain social distancing of at least six feet from any other person when they are outside their residence. All persons may leave their residences only for Essential Activities, or to provide or perform Essential Governmental Functions, or to operate Essential Businesses, all as defined below.

All businesses operating within Hays County, except Essential Businesses as defined in below in Section 3, 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). To the greatest extent possible, all Essential Businesses shall comply with the Social Distancing Guidelines attached, including maintaining six-foot social distancing for employees and the general public.

All public or 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 gathering of members of a household or living unit.

SECTION 2. TRAVEL.

All travel, including, but not limited to, travel on foot, bicycle, scooter, motorcycle, automobile, or public transit is prohibited, except for purposes of Essential Activities or to perform or obtain services from an Essential Business, Essential Governmental Function, or Critical Infrastructure, as defined below. To the greatest extent feasible, people riding on public transit shall comply with Requirements in Exhibit A.

SECTION 3. ESSENTIAL ACTIVITIES.

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 tasks essential to their health and safety, or to the health and safety of their family or household members (for example, obtaining medical supplies or medication, visiting a health care professional, or obtaining supplies needed to work from home).

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, and products necessary to maintain safety, sanitization, and essential operation of residences).

iii. To engage in outdoor recreational or fitness activity, provided the individuals comply with social distancing requirements of six feet (for example, walking, biking, hiking, or running).

iv. To perform work providing essential products and services at an Essential Business or Essential Governmental Functions, or to otherwise carry out activities specifically permitted in this Order.

v. To care for a family member or pet in another

vi. To perform or obtain services from an Essential Business, or from an Essential Government Function, as defined in this Order.

vii. To return home from or to another jurisdiction.

SECTION 4. ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES.

For purposes of this Order, “Essential Businesses” means:

   i. Essential Healthcare Operations. Healthcare operations, including hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmacies, 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 includes 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. Healthcare operations do not include fitness and exercise gyms and similar facilities. Healthcare operations do not include elective medical, surgical, dental, or scanning procedures.

   ii. Essential Critical Infrastructure. Work necessary to the operations and maintenance of the critical infrastructure sectors, including public works construction, residential and commercial construction, airport operations, water, sewer, gas, electrical, oil refining, roads and highways, public transportation, solid waste collection and removal, internet, and telecommunications systems (including the provision of essential global, national, and local infrastructure for computing services, business infrastructure, communications, and web-based services), financial institutions, defense and national security-related operations, essential manufacturing operations provided that they carry out those services or that work in compliance with social distancing requirements of six feet, to the extent possible. Essential Businesses providing Essential Critical Infrastructure should implement precautions to protect employees and all activity shall be performed in compliance with social distancing guidelines attached hereto. Construction sites should limit site visitation to a single trade at one time in order to maintain social distancing standards.

   iii. Grocery Stores and Other Suppliers. Grocery stores, warehouse stores, big-box stores, liquor stores, gas stations and convenience stores, and/or farmers’ markets that sell food products, household staples, office supplies, hardware (e.g. electrical, plumbing, etc.), or suppliers of Essential Businesses or Essential Government Functions. Business that provide products to those businesses, including farming, fishing, and livestock. Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to residences.

   iv. Food Services. Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or carry out. 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. Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to residences. The restriction of delivery or carry out does not apply to cafes and restaurants located within hospital and medical facilities, except that all activity shall be performed in compliance with social distancing guidelines attached hereto.

   v. Providers of Basic Necessities to Economically Disadvantaged Populations. Businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals.

   vi. 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, lawn and property maintenance and security, warehouse/distribution and fulfillment, trucking, storage for essential businesses, funeral homes, crematoriums and cemeteries. Professional services, such as legal or accounting services, when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities. Businesses that supply other essential businesses with support or supplies needed to operate, including laundromats, dry cleaners, and laundry service providers.

   vii. News Media. Newspapers, television, radio, and other media

   viii. Childcare Services. Childcare facilities providing services that enable employees exempted in this Order to work as Except that the following practices shall be observed: 1. Childcare must be carried out in groups of 10 or fewer children, each within the same group each day. Children shall not change from one group to another, and groups shall not comingle. If a facility cannot prevent comingling of more than one group of children, then that facility should limit its total number of children to 10. Unless necessitated by overriding health and safety considerations, childcare providers shall remain solely with one group of children and not change groups. Please note that, pursuant to Section 6, subsection v, below, a municipality may provide stricter guidelines than this subsection.

   ix. Gas Stations and Businesses Needed for Transportation. Gas stations, automobile dealerships, auto-manufacturing and assembly, auto-supply, auto repair, RV sales/repair, bicycle sales/repair, and other related facilities. To the greatest extent possible, interaction with the public should be provided outdoors or in open areas where social distancing and compliance with Exhibit A may be maintained. Indoor activities should be limited to closing sales or other transactions.

   x. Financial Institutions. Banks and related financial institutions, consumer lenders, sales and finance lenders, credit unions, appraisers, title companies.

   xi. Critical Trades. Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, pool cleaners, HVAC providers, sign companies, and other service providers only to the extent that services are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, Essential Activities, Essential Businesses, Essential Government Functions, and Essential Critical Infrastructure, including but not limited to utilities such as electricity, gas, water and wastewater, and other public works. Critical Trades does not include discretionary maintenance or improvements.

   xii. Real Estate Services. Services related to the marketing, sale, lease, or value of real estate, including but not limited to real estate brokers, title companies, surveyors, and/or appraisers, except that all activities shall be performed in compliance with Exhibit A.

   xiii. Mail and Delivery Services. Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes.

   xiv. Certain Educational Activities. Educational functions, including those of public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities, for purposes of distance education, temporary closure or maintenance of facilities, performing critical research, or performing essential administrative functions, provided that the Requirements in Exhibit A are maintained to the greatest extent possible.

   xv. Transportation. Airlines, taxis, and other private transportation providers (such as Uber and Lyft) that provide transportation services necessary for the performance of Essential Activities, Essential Businesses, Critical Infrastructure, and/or Essential Government Functions.

   xvi. Home-Based Care and Services. Home-based care for seniors, adults, or children, including caregivers who may travel to provide care.

   xvii. Residential Facilities and Shelters. Residential facilities and shelters for seniors, adults, children and animals (including students who have no other option but to remain on campus at a lower or higher education institution).

   xviii. Professional Services. Professional services, such as legal services, accounting services, or insurances services, only to the extent that the activity has been ordered to continue by a state entity (such as Office of Court Administration), or to the extent that service can be provided in compliance with Exhibit A.

   xix. Information Technology Services/Telecommunications Services. IT and IT services and their essential services vendors, including the provision of essential global, national, and local infrastructure for computing services, business infrastructure, communications, web-based services, and critical manufacturing, as well as telecommunications sales and services, internet access and broadband/communications services.

   xx. Moving Services. Businesses that provide residential and/or commercial moving services and necessary moving supplies.

   xxi. Hotels and Motels. Hotels and motels, to the extent used for lodging or carry-out food services, but not for use of amenities such as swimming pools, saunas, or spas.

   xxii. Religious Services. Religious and worship services may only be provided by video and teleconference. Religious institutions must limit in-person staff to ten (10) people or less when preparing for or conducting video or teleconference services, and all individuals must follow the Social Distancing Guidelines including the six foot social distancing rule. Other church functions, including administrative, shall follow the guidelines in Exhibit A.

   xxiii. Funeral Services. Funeral, mortuary, cremation, burial, cemetery, and related services, provided that social distancing of six feet per person is maintained to the greatest extent possible.

SECTION 5. ESSENTIAL GOVERNMENT FUNCTIONS

All services provided by local governments needed to ensure the continuing operation of the government agencies to provide for the health, safety and welfare of the public shall continue. Further, nothing in this order shall prohibit any individual from accessing “Essential Government Functions.” Each government body shall determine its Essential Government Functions and identify employees and/or contractors necessary to the performance of those functions, including but not limited to support services such as Chambers of Commerce, non-profit support services, and the like. To the extent feasible, all Essential Government Functions shall be performed in compliance with the Requirements in Exhibit A. This Order does not apply to the Federal or State Government.

SECTION 6. ADDITIONAL ORDERS

   i. Quarantine. If someone in a household has tested positive for COVID-19, the entire household is ordered to isolate at home. Members of the household cannot go to work, school, or any other community function. Any person who displays symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, shortness of breath, or dry cough should refrain from leaving home and call the COVID-19 Hotline at (512) 393-5525.

   ii. Elder Care Facilities. Nursing homes, retirement, and long-term care facilities are instructed by this order to prohibit non-essential visitors from accessing their facilities unless to provide critical assistance or for end-of-life

   iii. Curfew. Unless conducting or traveling to or from an Essential Activity, work at an Essential Business, or work at an Essential Governmental Function, members of the public shall remain at their residential properties between the hours of 11 p.m. and 4 a.m.

   iv. Homelessness. Individuals experiencing homelessness are exempt from this Order except that, to the extent individuals are using shared or outdoor spaces, they shall, to the greatest extent feasible, maintain social distancing of at least six feet from any other person, consistent with the Social Distancing Requirements, as defined in Exhibit A. Individuals experiencing homelessness are strongly urged to obtain shelter, where it is available.

   v. Prior Orders. This Order, at the time and on the date for commencement of this Order cited in Section 1, above, shall replace the County Judge’s 2nd Order, executed on March 19, 2020; and shall be applicable on a County-wide basis, except that a more restrictive order duly-authorized by municipal government within a city’s corporate limits shall control within that municipality.

   vi. Penalty. The Hays County Sheriff’s Office, Hays County Constables’ Offices, the Hays County Fire Marshal’s Office, and other peace officers, are hereby authorized to enforce this order, within their discretion. A person who willfully disregards or conspires to willfully disregard this order is considered to have violated an order authorized by Chapter 418 of the Texas Government Code and is subject to a fine of up to $500 for each violation

   vii. Notice to Public. This Order shall be widely advertised to help accomplish the public health and safety objectives of the Hays County Local Health Department. Concerns or questions may be directed to publiccomments@co.hays.tx.us.

ORDERED this the 25th day of March, 2020.

EXHIBIT A

Hays County Local Health Department Social Distancing Recommendations

                 1.) Vulnerable Populations: Limit or Eliminate Time Outside the Home

    • Vulnerable populations include people who are:
      • 60 years old and older;
      • People with certain health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and weakened immune
    • For vulnerable populations, don’t go to public places unless it is essential. Find ways to telecommute. Avoid contact with people.
  •         2.) Workplace and Businesses: Minimize Exposure

    • Suspend nonessential employee travel.
    • Prohibit employees from working within six feet of one another, unless necessary to provide continuity of services.
    • Minimize or cancel in-person meetings and conferences.
    • Require sick employees to stay home without providing a doctor’s note and maximize flexibility in sick leave
    • Utilize telecommuting options and alter schedules so that employees may be present at the workplace on different shifts and at different times.
    • Sanitize common work spaces regularly, especially between shifts or after departure of one group of patrons or employees.
    • Ensure that queuing inside and outside of businesses or workplaces maintains a 6-foot separation between patrons and make efforts to minimize the number of people within one space to 10 or less.3.) Public Settings: Clean, Sanitize, and Prevent Contact
      • To the extent it is possible, doors should be automated or propped open to allow public access to areas without repeated contact by members of the public.
      • Hand sanitizers, wipes, and other cleaning supplies should be provided at or near points of public contact, including but not limited to shopping carts, debit/credit card readers, and bathrooms.
      • Daily cleaning and/or cleaning between business hours or shifts is essential.
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