Jefferson County outlines rules of latest “Stay Home, Work Safe Order”

Published 2:53 pm Friday, March 27, 2020

BEAUMONT — Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick and his counterparts from five other counties are strengthening emergency orders designed to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The “Stay Home, Work Safe Order” — which would be Jefferson County’s seventh amendment to its emergency declaration — will go into effect at midnight tonight and is good for 14 days unless lifted or extended. The order was announced just as the Jefferson County Health Department announced a positive coronavirus test involving a Groves resident between the ages of 35 and 45.

Orange, Hardin, Jasper, Newton and Tyler counties are implementing similar orders, as their judges collaborate with Branick in the Southeast Texas Regional Emergency Operations Center housed at the Jefferson County Courthouse.

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The order spells out that playground equipment, gymnasiums, fitness centers, martial arts facilities, public recreation facilities including swimming pools and splash pads, buses and other forms of public transportation including worksite busing, picnics, barbecues, sand-bar/beach parties and other social gatherings including more than 10 people are prohibited. Outdoor recreation areas where social distancing of 6 or more feet is observed are still open, eateries that serve food by take-out, delivery or drive-thru may remain open and laundromats/washaterias may remain open while observing social distancing.

“This morning, the five county judges that are behind me and we fielded several calls with local physicians, particularly critical care pulmonologists and other hospital administrators,” Branick said. “We heard their points of view. As a result, we began work on a new order, which in Jefferson County will be the seventh amended order, in meeting and responding to the COVID-19 threat in the community.”

Port Arthur Mayor Thurman Bartie speaks during Friday’s news conference.

Port Arthur confirmed its first case of coronavirus, a person between the ages of 40 and 50, Thursday evening.

“We just want the citizens to know that we are on board with this ‘Stay Home, Work Safe’ ordinance that the county judges have actively gone with,” Port Arthur Mayor Thurman Bartie said. He added he concurred with the medical advice the judges sought in determining to strengthen their ordinances.

Bartie added his city would disallow drive-in religious and worship services.

Branick returned to work this week from a self-quarantine after learning his wife Sherrie tested negative for COVID-19. He also expressed concern that some big-name retail stores were not obeying an order to allow only one person per family to shop at their facilities unless the customer is a single parent with no other alternative for childcare.

“People out on the streets driving to and from essential services are OK,” Branick said. “People taking a drive and not getting out of their cars are OK. People going to the park and maintaining distancing are OK.”

The “Stay Home, Work Safe Order” does not change verdicts from district judges pertaining to child custody, Branick said.

Branick urged customers of eateries and stores to use credit cards when ordering items as often possible to slow down the passing of cash.

The order is not a total shutdown, although a 24-hour curfew for youths unless accompanied by adults is still in effect. Gatherings of 10 or more in public and private indoor settings are still prohibited.

Violators can face a fine of up to $1,000 and/or 180 days in jail for each offense.

Those with COPD, heart disease, cancer and diabetes are strongly urged to stay home and allow others to provide essentials for them during the order.

What is open:

  • Essential Government Functions
  • Essential Businesses
  • Restaurants that serve food by take out, delivery or drive-through
  • Bars that serve food by take out, delivery or drive-through
  • Micro-Breweries that serve food by take out, delivery or drive-through
  • Micro-Distilleries that serve food by take out, delivery or drive-through
  • Wineries that serve food by take out, delivery or drive-through
  • Public Parks but not Playground Equipment
  • Open Outdoor Recreation Areas
  • Laundromats/Washaterias (while observing social distancing)
  • Religious and worship services by video and teleconference

What is closed:

  • Playground Equipment
  • Gyms / Cross-Fit Facilities / Martial Arts Facilities
  • Fitness Centers / Sports Training Facilities
  • Public Swimming Pools and Splash Pads
  • Sports and Recreation Training Facilities and Studios
  • Hair and Nail Salons
  • Spas
  • Licensed Massage Businesses
  • Tattoo Parlors
  • Concert Halls
  • Live Performance Theaters
  • Arenas and Stadiums
  • Movie Theaters
  • Game Rooms / Pool Halls
  • Bowling Alleys
  • Arcades
  • Indoor and Outdoor Flea Markets and Swap Meets
  • Indoor Malls, Unless the Individual Store has an Outside Entrance
  • Bingo Halls
  • Tanning Salons
  • Buses and any Other Forms of Public Transportation, including Worksite Busing
  • Picnics, Barbeques, Sand-Bar/Beach Parties or any Social Gatherings including more than 10 people
  • Outdoor Burning of Debris or Waste

Essential Activities are:

  • Performing tasks essential to health and safety, including: obtaining medication or visiting a healthcare professional
  • Obtaining supplies or services or delivery of those to others, including: food, pet supplies, household products, work from home supplies
  • Engaging in outdoor activity, while keeping social distancing
  • Performing work providing essential products and services to an essential business
  • Caring for a family member or pet in another household.

Essential activities are:

  • Critical Infrastructure as identified by the US Department of Homeland Security National Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency
  • Essential Government Functions including law enforcement, and other services for the health, safety and welfare of the public
  • Essential Healthcare Operations including hospitals, dentists, pharmacies, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, mental health providers, blood banks, home and residential based care for seniors, adults and children, veterinary and animal welfare operations
  • Essential Retail including grocery stores, warehouse stores, gas stations, convenience stores, food producers and service providers
  • Providers of Basic Necessities to Economically Disadvantaged Populations
  • Essential Services Necessary to Maintain Essential Operations of Residences or Other Essential Businesses including: trash and recycling collection, mail and shipping services, building maintenance and security, and funeral homes
  • News Media
  • Childcare and Adult Care Services
  • Infrastructure, Development, Operation and Construction Services including public works construction, housing construction, commercial, manufacturing, oil refining, roads and highways, public transportation, and telecommunications systems
  • Transportation Businesses including car dealerships, parts distributors, maintenance and repair facilities, gas stations, vehicles for hire
  • Labor Union Functions
  • All Marine Ports
  • Airports and related operations
  • Professional services including legal, accounting, insurance, and real estate services.
  • Other businesses that are not listed but either are or support critical industries or services


About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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