Stay at home, stay safe order

The city of Lufkin has issued a stay-home, stay-safe order to go into effect at 11:59 p.m. Thursday.

“This isn’t a problem that’s affecting New York or California. It’s here in Lufkin and all around us,” city of Lufkin director of public safety Gerald Williamson said. “It will continue to get worse until we change our behaviors. It’s hard to do because it affects everything in our lives, but it’s what we’ve got to do.”

Williamson said the Angelina County & Cities Health District was waiting on the test results of nearly 70 symptomatic people as of 11 a.m. Wednesday.

The order is the same as a shelter-in-place order, according to a press release by Lufkin Police Department public relations specialist Jessica Pebsworth.

The order requires non-essential businesses to close, and travel is only permitted for essential activities, essential government functions or to operate businesses as outlined in the order.

A citywide curfew will go into effect from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

“Essential workers are still permitted to travel during this time and must have either an identification card or documentation on company letterhead showing that they are working for an essential business,” Pebsworth said. “We have a form for employers to customize and use at CityofLufkin.com.”

However, outdoor activities like jogging, biking, boating and fishing are allowed while maintaining the proper distancing of 6 feet. City parks will remain open, but basketball goals will be removed and playground equipment will be roped off to prevent the spread of the virus.

“I’m a parks-and-rec guy at heart, so limiting recreational activities for anyone is heartbreaking, but we have to keep people safe,” assistant city manager Jason Arnold said. “The more restrictive we are now, the sooner we can all get back to doing what we love.”

The order also addressed the following issues:

* Every hospital, physician, health care provider or public health authority must notify the city’s Emergency Management Operations Center within four hours of any suspect (person under investigation, i.e. “PUI”) or positive case of COVID-19. Emergency management officials will release information to the public (gender, age, believed contamination source), while protecting the patient’s identity, in the name of public safety.

* Anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or who lives in a home with someone who has tested positive must isolate themselves in their home until they test negative or are cleared by their doctor.

* No gatherings (parties or get-togethers, including but not limited to crawfish boils, baby showers, birthday parties, anniversary parties, wedding showers or weddings) of any kind are permitted regardless of the number of attendees.

* No in-restaurant dining is allowed. Restaurants can continue with take-out and curbside service for customers.

* Religious services may only be delivered by video or teleconference. If a production team is necessary, it must be comprised of 10 or less asymptomatic (i.e. “not showing any signs or symptoms of illness”) church employees.

* All elective medical, surgical or dental procedures must be postponed or canceled.

* Funeral services may only be conducted at the graveside and are limited to immediate, asymptomatic family members maintaining proper distance.

* Essential businesses must maintain a safety plan which is to include the store’s cleaning of high-touch surfaces and how they intend to enforce patron limitations based on the business’ square footage — 1 person per 1,000 square feet.

* Only one member of a household may enter a retail business at one time — unless the person is the caregiver of a child with no alternative childcare or if the person is handicapped and requires the assistance of a caregiver.

* Essential businesses must also screen and monitor their employees for symptoms of the virus and not allow symptomatic (i.e. “sick”) employees to work.

* Nursing homes are required to prohibit non-essential visitors from accessing their facilities.

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