Hidalgo County and Travis County Judges Issue Orders Regarding Local Restrictions

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Jackson Walker

On June 25, 2020, Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe and Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez issued orders related to COVID-19. Judge Biscoe issued a Gatherings of Individuals Order for Travis County and Judge Cortez issued a Supplemental Emergency Order Related to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency for Hidalgo County.

Travis County Gatherings of Individuals Order

The Gatherings of Individuals Order in Travis County prohibits any outdoor gatherings that exceed 100 people except as permitted by Governor Abbot’s Executive Order GA-26. The Order also prohibits individuals from socializing in groups of more than 10 people unless those individuals are members of the same household or residence and except to the extent permitted by the Governor’s Orders.

There is no occupancy limit for the following: any services listed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructures Security Agency (CISA); religious services conducted in churches, congregations and houses of worship; local government operations; child-care services; youth camps; and recreational sports programs for youths and adults.

Additionally, the outdoor gathering ban does not apply to the following outdoor areas or venues: professional, collegiate or similar sporting events; swimming pools; water parks; museums and libraries; zoos, aquariums, natural caverns and similar facilities; rodeos and equestrian events; amusement parks; and carnivals. While the ban is not applicable, such outdoor areas and venues may not operate at no more than 50% of the normal operating limits as determined by the owner.

The Travis County order became effective at 12:01 a.m. on June 26, 2020, and continues through 11:59 p.m. on July 10, 2020, unless otherwise extended, modified, or terminated.

Hidalgo County Supplemental Emergency Order Related to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

The Supplemental Emergency Order prohibits all public or private gatherings of 10 persons or more occurring outside a single household or living unit unless such gatherings are specifically permitted by this Order, by Governor Abbott’s Executive Order GA-26 or by proclamation or future executive order by the Governor.

The Order encourages and recommends that all individuals shelter-at-home unless obtaining or providing for essential or covered services and minimize in-person contact with people who are not in the same household.

In addition to the shelter-at-home recommendation, the Order imposes curfews for all persons under 17 years old from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. unless accompanied by a parent or guardian or for providing covered services and for all persons 18 and older from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. unless that person is out for an emergency, providing covered services or unless otherwise superseded by proclamation or subsequent executive orders issued by Governor Abbott.

The Order encourages and recommends that travel into or out of Hidalgo County should be limited to perform or obtain covered services; to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities or other vulnerable persons; for educational reasons or distance learning; to travel to or return from a place of residence or place of employment outside the county; travel required by first responders, law enforcement or court order; or travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the county. The Order limits public transportation to personal activities related to covered services or travel to and from work for the purposes of providing covered services.

Finally, the Order encourages all individuals over the age of three to wear a facial covering when in a public place where it is difficult to keep six feet away from other people or working in areas that involve close proximity with other persons. The face mask recommendation does not apply to individuals that are engaging in a permissible outside physical activity; persons driving or riding in a personal vehicle during essential or reopened activities; persons that are alone in a separate single room or office space; persons that are with their own household members; individuals with medical conditions where covering the nose and mouth may pose a greater health, safety or security risk; or consumption of food and beverage.

This Supplemental Emergency Order went into effect at 12:01 a.m. on June 26, 2020, and will remain in full force unless otherwise modified, rescinded, superseded, or amended.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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