Bell County residents ordered to shelter at home
The order is effective until 11:59 p.m. April 3 or until it is rescinded.
Essential businesses and activities, including grocery shopping or trips to a pharmacy, are exempt.
BELTON — A state of disaster caused by the growing coronavirus pandemic will continue in Bell County for the foreseeable future.
The Commissioners Court Monday morning unanimously approved a disaster declaration that Bell County Judge David Blackburn ordered last week. There are at least 10 COVID-19 cases in the county.
The declaration bans gatherings of 10 or more people in a single room or other confined or enclosed spaces. It also limits restaurant services to take-out and drive-through orders only and shutters bars, gyms and entertainment venues.
Breaking the order could result in a fine of up to $1,000 or up to 180 days in jail.
“What I am asking the Commissioners Court to do today is to approve the disaster declaration and the authority that it extends to my office pursuant to state and local law,” Blackburn said. “I would anticipate that there will be further directives issued in accordance with this disaster declaration.”
Blackburn will now not have to seek the Commissioner Courts’ approval for additional directives. The county judge said the declaration gives him authority to amend it.
“However, at any time the Commissioners Court would like to meet or consider amending or modifying disaster declarations — or directives associated with that might be issued by my office — the court certainly has that ability,” Blackburn said.
The declaration is in place until either the county judge or the Commissioners Court rescind it.
Bell County remains at Stage 3 of its COVID-19 Action Plan. All Stage 1 and 2 guidelines apply in Stage 3, which was triggered by Blackburn’s disaster declaration.
Stage 2 guidelines require residents to actively practice social distancing by staying six feet away from each other, and avoiding physical contact with people at work and at social gatherings.
Stage 1 rules are staying home if you are sick; avoiding contact with sick people; avoid touching your face with unclean hands; cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and throw it away; clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces; don’t travel to areas with active community spread of COVID-19; and wash your hands with soap and water regularly and use hand sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol content when you cannot wash your hands.