BREAKING NEWS: Here is the order for Hays County’s shelter in place that begins at 11 p.m. March 26

Hays County is in a shelter-in-place from March 26 until April 10. (Evelin Garcia/Community Impact Newspaper)
Hays County is in a shelter-in-place from March 26 until April 10. (Evelin Garcia/Community Impact Newspaper)

Hays County is in a shelter-in-place from March 26 until April 10. (Evelin Garcia/Community Impact Newspaper)

A shelter-in-place order goes into effect at 11 p.m. Thursday, March 26 in Hays County to help slow the spread of coronavirus. The county has 11 confirmed cases.

The order was distributed by the county by email at 5:54 p.m. Wednesday and will last until 4 a.m. April 10. Residents are ordered to stay at home at their place of residence, which may include homes, hotels, motels, shared rentals and similar facilities.

In outdoor spaces, Hays County residents must maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from any other person when outside their residence. County Judge Ruben Becerra’s order said residents may leave “only for essential activities, or provide essential governmental functions, or to operate essential businesses.”

The order said all travel, including, but not limited to, travel on foot, bicycle, scooter, motorcycle, automobile or public transit is prohibited, except to perform or obtain services from essential businesses or essential functions.

Residents are allowed to, according to the order:

  • 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).

  • 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).

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • To care for a family member or pet in another household.

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


Essential businesses


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Childcare Services. Childcare facilities providing services that enable employees exempted in this Order to work as permitted. 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.

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 maybe maintained. Indoor activities should be limited to closing sales or other transactions.

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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).

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).

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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. This Order does not apply to the Federal or State Government.

Additional orders

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.

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 visitation.

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.

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. Individuals experiencing homelessness are strongly urged to obtain shelter, where it is available.

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.

This is a developing story. More information will be shared at www.communityimpact.com
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By Joe Warner

Joe Warner is managing editor of the nine Austin-Central Texas editions of Community Impact Newspaper. He previously served as senior editor of the flagship Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto newspaper. He came to Central Texas from Metro Detroit, where he was editor and general manager of several daily and weekly publications. He is the former president of the Michigan Press Association and was on the MPA board of directors for nine years.


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