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Large outdoor gatherings are officially allowed in Cooke County, the county judge declared Tuesday, July 7.

County Judge Jason Brinkley issued a blanket order permitting outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people as long as those gathered observe safety protocols recommended by the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Gatherings of more than 100 people must email a plan at least 24 hours in advance listing how organizers will abide by those recommendations, according to the county judge's order. The plan should be emailed to input@co.cooke.tx.us.

"The order is enforceable by fine," Brinkley said, under an executive order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott. Abbott's order allows for a fine of up to $1,000.

The county judge's order applies to gatherings in unincorporated areas. Gatherings in the incorporated cities and towns of Gainesville, Callisburg, Lindsay, Muenster, Oak Ridge, Road Runner and Valley View will have to seek permission from the local mayor, under Abbott's order.

The county judge's order came a few days after Abbott declared that effective at noon July 3, outdoor gatherings must obtain local officials' approval before proceeding. Some gatherings were excepted from the governor's order, including essential services, religious services, local government operations, child care services, youth camps, recreational sports and amusement parks.

As of noon Monday, July 6, there were 44 active coronavirus cases among Cooke County residents, according to county officials, out of a total 89 cases. That total does not count five of the 13 cases reported among youth incarcerated at Gainesville State School, according to Cathy Lloyd, administrative assistant to the county judge.

One fatality had been reported last week.

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