Denton County is issuing a Stay-At-Home order in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Denton County Judge Andy Eads and Denton Mayor Chris Watts hosted a joint press conference Tuesday. Eads announced that the Stay-At-Home order is effective at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, and will last for seven days unless extended by the Denton County Commissioners Court.
“Sometimes you have to decide between two bad choices and I am erring on the side of saving lives,” Eads said. “Each individual has the responsibility to stay at home and limit their actions to the necessities of getting supplies, handling medical issues and, for some, going to work to keep essential businesses in operation.”
There have been 36 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Denton County, as of Monday afternoon, according to Denton County Public Health. Hundreds more have been confirmed in the rest of North Texas.
The Stay-At-Home order means residents may only leave their homes for essential activities, which include:
- Going to work at an essential business
- Obtaining necessary services or supplies for yourself or others
- Engage in outdoor activity — such as walking, biking, running, hiking, etc. — as long as you stay six feet away from people who are not members of your household. The use of playgrounds is prohibited.
- Caring for a family member or pet in another household
All public or private gatherings of any number of people — outside of one household — are prohibited. Non-essential businesses should either have employees work from home or close.
Essential businesses include healthcare operations, government functions, some education functions (such as providing meals for students, supporting at-home learning, etc.), critical infrastructure, foodservice, household retail providers, providers of basic necessities to the needy, trash and recycling collection, mail and shipping services, news media and childcare services. Click here for the full list of examples from each category.
Eads said it will be treated as a life-and-death matter. Police officers are authorized to enforce the order. A violation is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or 180 days in jail.
Restaurants may continue to serve food via delivery, pickup or drive-thru. Religious services may be provided via video or teleconference. All elective medical, surgical and dental procedures are prohibited.
“Hospitals, the places that help us in our greatest hours of need, are now asking us to help them,” Judge Eads said. “We must ensure the health and safety of our medical professionals and first responders, who are on the front lines working to give residents the services they need when they need it most.”
Because of high demand for products like soap and toilet paper, the order also suspends all delivery hour restrictions for the next 60 days involving the delivery or distribution of food products, medicine or medical supplies and equipment in the county.