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Abbott’s order overrides Hays County Emergency Order

Friday, April 3, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott’s statewide Executive Order effective April 2 overrides local orders from county judges or mayors. 

This provision is meant to preserve essential services allowed by the governor’s order that local officials may want to restrict. 

The governor refers to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, Version 2.0 as the guidelines for essential services, and adds religious services to the list. The list can be found at https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastruct.... Abbott encourages religious services to be held virtually if possible. 

Texas businesses can request to be added to that list of essential services by emailing the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) at EssentialServices@tdem.texas.gov.

The governor’s order still prohibits visitation of nursing homes and assisted living facilities, bars, restaurants, gyms, massage establishments, tattoo studios, piercing studios or cosmetology salons. Take-out and delivery of food and drinks is encouraged.

It does not prohibit people from accessing essential services or engaging in essential daily activities, such as going to the grocery store or gas station, providing or obtaining other essential services, hunting or fishing, or engaging in physical activity like jogging or bicycling so long as residents are taking precautions to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and to minimize in-person contact with people who are not in the same household. 

Some of the more detailed guidance in Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra’s most recent order is not in effect anymore. The county’s “Work Safe” curfew is still in effect since it does not apply to essential businesses. Hays County General Council said, “If a person needs to utilize an essential service, no matter the time of day, that person may do so. We assume that most essential services will not be available in the middle of the night.”

The statewide order also says that residents should follow the guidelines from the president and the CDC. In support of the CDC Guidelines, Hays County urges those who qualify to operate under Abbott’s order to continue conducting business in such a way that patrons (and employees) are not made to remain within 6 feet of one another and groups of more than 10 people are not made to congregate in one confined space.

The penalty for violations of Abbott’s order is up to $1,000 fine and/or up to 180 days in jail, which is a greater penalty than that which was set in Becerra’s most recent order.

The governor’s order is in effect until the end of April, schools are to remain closed until May 4.

San Marcos Record

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