WHEREAS, on March 12, 2020, a Declaration of Local Disaster for Public Health Emergency was issued to allow Fort Bend County to take measures to reduce the possibility of exposure to COVID-19 and promote the health and safety of Fort Bend County residents; and
Whereas, on March 13, 2020, a Declaration of State of Disaster was issued by Governor Abbott to take additional steps to prepare for, respond to, and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 to protect the health and welfare of Texans; and
Whereas, on March 16, 2020, President Donald Trump acknowledged the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic, releasing strict new guidelines to limit people’s interactions, including that Americans should avoid groups of more than 10 people; and
Whereas, on March 17, 2020, the Fort Bend County Commissioners at a Special Meeting of Commissioners Court approved an extension of the Declaration of Local Disaster for Public Health Emergency to March 24, 2020, and such was further extended by Order of Commissioners Court on March 24, 2020, March 31, 2020, and April 28, 2020; and
Whereas, due to the substantial risks to the public, certain establishments were ordered closed and public access to Fort Bend County offices and facilities were limited to essential functions including but not limited to court obligations, making payments, and obtaining permits, to implement the “All of Community” approach, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), by Order of the County Judge of Fort Bend County, on March 17, 2020, as amended on March 20, 2020 and April 1, 2020 effective until 11:59 p.m. on April 30, 2020, unless a declaration of the local disaster for public health emergency was no longer in effect; and
Whereas, on April 27, 2020 Governor Abbott issued Executive Order GA-18 to continue and expand the reopening of services as part of a safe, strategic plan to Open Texas, reopening certain retail services and providing local governments with the ability to reopen operations relating to permitting, recordation, and document-filing services, as determined by such local governments starting at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, May 1, 2020; and
Whereas, Executive Order GA-18 supersedes any conflicting order issued by local officials in response to the COVID-19 disaster, but only to the extent that such a local order restricts certain services specifically allowed by, allows gatherings prohibited by, or expands the list of essential or the scope of reopened services as set forth by Executive Order GA-18.
NOW THEREFORE, I, COUNTY JUDGE OF FORT BEND COUNTY, TEXAS, PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORITY VESTED BY TEXAS GOVERNMENT CODE CHAPTER 418, HEREBY FIND AND ORDER:
SECTION 1. That the findings and recitations set out in the preamble to this Order are found to be true and correct and they are hereby adopted by the County Judge and made a part hereof for all purposes.
SECTION 2. That this Order shall be read to comply with Executive Order No. GA-18 signed by Governor Greg Abbott on April 27, 2020, relating to the expanded reopening of services as part of the safe, strategic plan to Open Texas in response to the COVID-19 disaster.
SECTION 3. Public access to Fort Bend County offices and facilities shall remain limited to essential functions including but not limited to court obligations, making payments, and obtaining permits effective immediately and continuing through 11:59 p.m. on May 3, 2020. Members of the public should contact the appropriate department or court for instructions or authorization to appear – https://www.fortbendcountytx.gov/government/departments/county-administration/human-resources/employees/directory.
SECTION 4. Pursuant to Annex U, Section V. (A) (4) (a) of the Fort Bend County Emergency Operations Plan approved by Commissioners Court on January 15, 2019, and in accordance with Texas Government Code §418.173, the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office, the Fort Bend County Fire Marshal’s Office, and other peace officers, as defined by Article 2.12 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, are hereby authorized to enforce this order, and the failure to comply with this Order is an offense punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or confinement in jail for a term of up to 180 days.
SECTION 5. Fort Bend County will post this Order on its website. In addition, a copy will be provided upon the request of any member of the public. If any subsection, sentence, clause, phrase, or word of this Order or any application of it to any person, structure, gathering, or circumstance is held to be invalid or unconstitutional by a decision of a court of competent jurisdiction, then such decision will not affect the validity of this Order.
SECTION 6. This Order applies to all unincorporated and incorporated areas within the boundaries of Fort Bend County and shall be effective until 11:59 p.m. on May 3, 2020.
ORDERED this the __________ day of April, 2020.
KP George, County Judge
Laura Richard, County Clerk