Liberty County orders residents to ‘stay home, stay safe’

Liberty County Judge Jay Knight's educational effort has earned him top recognition among colleagues.

Authorities aren’t calling it a lockdown, but a “stay home, stay safe” policy that goes into effect for Liberty County at midnight tonight. The order is similar to the one imposed in Harris County on Monday.

“It’s not a lockdown in the sense of an approaching hurricane, where you say, ‘The hurricane is here and you better stay home,'” said County Attorney Matthew Poston. “This is more about restricting the in-person gatherings while still allowing for essential activities.”

The order, which expires on April 3 or until it is rescinded, superseded or amended, was signed by Liberty County County Judge Jay Knight on Tuesday, March 24. It allows residents to only leave their residences for one of the following “essential activities”:

  • To engage in activities or perform tasks essential to their health and safety, or to the health and safety of their family or household members (for example, obtaining medical supplies or medication, visiting a healthcare professional or obtaining supplies needed to work from home);
  • To obtain necessary services or supplies for themselves and their family or household members, or to deliver those services or supplies to others (for example, food, pet supply and any other household consumer products, and products necessary to maintain safety, sanitation and essential operation of residences);
  • To engage in outdoor activity, provided the individuals comply with social distancing requirements of six feet (for example, walking, biking, hiking or running);
  • To perform work providing essential products and services supporting an Essential Business or to otherwise carry out activities specifically permitted in this order; and
  • To care for a family member or pet in another household.

The order defines essential healthcare operations as healthcare operations, including hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmacies, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, other healthcare facilities, healthcare suppliers, mental health providers, substance abuse service providers, blood banks, medical research, laboratory services, or any related and/or ancillary healthcare services. Home-based and residential-based care for seniors, adults or children are also considered healthcare operations. Healthcare operations also include veterinary care and all health and welfare services provided to animals. Healthcare operations does not include fitness and exercise at gyms and similar facilities.

Essential government functions is defined as all services provided by local governments needed to ensure the continuing operation of the government agencies to provide for the health, safety and welfare of the public. Further, nothing in this order shall prohibit any individual from performing or accessing “Essential Government Functions.”

Essential critical infrastructure applies to work necessary to the operations and maintenance of the 16 critical infrastructure sectors as identified by the National Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) including public works construction, residential and commercial construction, airport operations, water, sewer, gas, electrical, oil, refining, roads and highways, public transportation, solid waste collection and removal, Internet and telecommunications systems (including the provision of essential global, national and local infrastructure for computing services, business infrastructure, communications and web-based services), financial institutions, defense and national security-related operations, essential manufacturing operations provided that they carry out those services or that work in compliance with social distancing requirements of six feet, to the extent possible.

Essential retail includes “food service providers, including grocery stores, warehouse stores, big box stores, bodegas, liquor stores, gas stations and convenience stores, farm and ranch supply stores and any other establishment for obtaining food, medicine or any other equipment used to maintain livestock, hardware stores, farmers’ markets that sell food products and household staples. Food cultivation, including farming, fishing and livestock. Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to residences and or Essential Businesses. Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve foods, but only for delivery and carry out. Schools and other entities that typically provide free services to students or members of the public on a pick-up, take-away and or delivery basis only. The restriction of delivery or carry out does not apply to cafes and restaurants located within hospital and medical facilities. Laundromats, dry cleaners and laundry service providers. Gas stations, auto supply, auto and bicycle repair, farm and ranch supply stores, hardware stores and related facilities. Businesses that supply products needed to work from home.”

Providers of Basic Necessities to Economically Disadvantaged Populations, such as businesses that provide food, shelter or social services, and other necessities of life to economically-disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals.

Essential Services Necessary to Maintain Essential Operations of Residences or other Essential Businesses is defined as trash and recycling collection, processing and disposal, mail and shipping services, building cleaning, maintenance and security, warehouse distribution and fulfillment, storage for essential businesses, funeral homes, crematoriums and cemeteries, plumbers, electricians, exterminators and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation and essential operations of residences and Essential Businesses, legal and accounting services, when necessary to assist in compliance with legally-mandated activities.

News Media includes newspapers, television, radio and other media services.

Childcare Services is defined as childcare facilities providing services that enable employees exempted in this order to work as permitted.

The order also addresses price-gouging and says that a person cannot sell most goods and services for more than the price that was charged for those same goods on March 12, 2020.

Anyone who violates the order faces a $1,000 fine and confinement of up to 180 days in jail.


Of the 50 suspected cases tested in Liberty County, only one was positive – the Cleveland woman who is now recovering at her home. Results are still being sought for 18 other tests. The rest of the tests were proven to be negative for Coronavirus (COVID-19).


  1. This isn’t Nazi Germany, nor is it Communist China. Americans don’t need permission to go outside or to go fishing. Whether or not our local authorities recognize that fact will have to be addressed in court, I guess. I took my boys fishing and no one bothered us.

  2. I notice they did not address the exchange of children under custody orders that must exchange as if school is in session (as put out by Texas Supreme Court). I understand that is still considered essential?

  3. You can’t fix stupid, check the parks where they are playing basketball. Wait till it’s to late

  4. Very smart and intelligent move I agree people should stay home, I am a senior and homebound I am the high-risk. Who is going to deliver my groceries to my door can’t afford to pay for delivery living on Social Security very high risk to go out. Dayton Liberty County

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