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What the Galveston County ‘stay-at-home’ order means for residents, businesses

HOUSTON – Galveston County is the first county in the Houston area to issue a “stay-at-home order" Monday evening.

County Judge Mark Henry issued the order to ensure people only go out for necessary reasons such as work, physician visits, grocery shopping or to pick up meals.

The order is effective as of 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24 and will continue until 11:59 p.m. on April 3.

Follow all the latest local updates about coronavirus here

This action orders the following:

  • All individuals currently living within Galveston County to remain at their place of residence unless engaging in essential activities, providing essential governmental functions, or operating essential businesses.
  • All businesses, except essential businesses, should cease all activities at facilities located within Galveston County
  • All public or private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single house or living unit are prohibited
  • Restaurants may only provide take-out, delivery, or drive-through services as allowed by law
  • Religious and worship services may only be provided by video and teleconferencing while limiting in-person staff to ten people or less
  • All elective medical, surgical, and dental procedures are prohibited anywhere in Galveston County
  • If someone tests positive for coronavirus, the whole household has to quarantine for 14 days
  • Nursing homes, retirement communities and long-term care facilities are to prohibit non-essential visitors
  • Tolls are waived at San Luis Pass toll booth

The order does carry criminal penalties with a fine of up to $1,000 for violators if caught.

“If we find out about a large gathering then we will send (law enforcement) out for that, but there’s not much else we can do to enforce the order,” Henry said.

The different cities in Galveston County will have the ability to enact stricter rules than the current stay-at-home order if they choose.

What are essential activities?

  • Engaging in activities or performing tasks essential to the health and safety of a person or a person’s family/household
  • Obtaining necessary services or supplies for a person or their family/household such as food, consumer products, and products related to the essential operations of residences
  • Engaging in outdoor activities as long as social distancing requirements are observed
  • Performing work to provide essential products and services to an essential business
  • Caring for a family member or pet in another household

What are essential businesses?

  • Essential Healthcare Operations
  • Essential Government Functions
  • Essential Critical Infrastructure
  • Essential Retail
  • Providers of Basic Necessities to Economically Disadvantaged Populations
  • Essential Services Necessary to Maintain Essential Operations of Residences or Other Essential Businesses
  • News Media
  • Childcare Services
  • Any other Essential Businesses outlined in the order

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