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Hockley County prepares to issue ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ order

Hockley County is preparing to issue a ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ order, which would go into effect tomorrow at midnight.

The commissioners called an emergency meeting Monday at 1 p.m. to discuss modifying the county’s disaster declaration in response to COVID-19 cases in Hockley County to include the ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ order.

As of Monday, seven total cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in Hockley County, two in Levelland, four in Sundown and one in Ropesville.

Sharla Baldridge, county judge, said the order would forbid all gatherings of any number of people outside of the person’s household.

The order will also close non-essential businesses, including hair salons, nail salons, and other businesses that require people to be in close contact but are not deemed essential.

Baldridge said a list of what businesses fall under essential or not essential had not been drafted yet, but would be included in the final order.

She did say that businesses such as oilfield and agriculture businesses would be deemed essential. She said those businesses would be able to implement whatever policy they felt was appropriate to continue to carry on their business.

Baldridge did not sign the order at Monday’s meeting, but said with the approval of the court, she would sign it once it was ready. The court approved moving forward with the order unanimously. Shortly after the meeting, the Levelland City Council added an emergency item to its meeting Monday night to consider implementing additional restrictions and regulations regarding the public health emergency to contain and prevent the continued spread of COVID-19.

She also said there wouldn’t be an end date on the order so the court doesn’t need to meet every other day to review or change the order. Baldridge reiterated that does not mean the order will be indefinite.

The order would also apply to schools within the county, including Anton, Ropes, Smyer, Whitharral, Sundown and Levelland ISD. The order would close schools until the order is withdrawn or ended.

“I know none of us want to do this and it’s not an easy decision, but we have to do something—we don’t have a choice at this point,” Baldridge said. “Especially because, from what I understand, there are people from Lubbock coming here because they can’t get a service in Lubbock. That’s putting our people at risk.”

The order would be enforced by the Hockley County Sheriff’s Department in the county.

The county’s order will include a curfew, mirroring the city’s curfew ordinance, in regards to anyone under the age of 16. That curfew would forbid anyone under the age of 16 being out after 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and after midnight on Friday and Saturday.

When signed and implemented, anyone found in violation of this order can be fined up to $1,000 or jailed for up to 180 days.

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