Cooke County cities are giving the green light to many outdoor gatherings, following the county’s lead this week.
Cooke County Judge Jason Brinkley on Tuesday, July 7, declared outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people and less than 100 would be permitted in the county as long as they adhered to safety protocols recommended by the Texas Department of State Health Services. Organizers planning a gathering of more than 100 must email a plan for approval to firstname.lastname@example.org listing how the gathering would abide by the safety measures, according to the county judge’s order.
The county order came a few days after Gov. Greg Abbott declared that due to the coronavirus pandemic, outdoor gatherings must obtain local officials' approval before proceeding. Some gatherings were exempted from the governor's order, including essential services, religious services, local government operations, child care services, youth camps, recreational sports and amusement parks.
"The order is enforceable by fine," Brinkley previously told the Register, 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.
Gainesville City Manager Barry Sullivan said the city and others across the county would be following the same approval protocol as the county.
“All the cities have agreed to do that… The county judge visited with all the mayors and we all wanted one program,” Sullivan said. Organizers of gatherings in Gainesville expecting more than 100 people “can email us or the county and they’ll pass it to whoever needs it.” The city manager’s email is email@example.com.
Valley View City Secretary Lynn Hillis said just one event that would be considered a large gathering is expected to take place soon in the city.
“The only current event that would fall in these terms is not scheduled until late August,” she said, noting that date remains tentative. “Those event planners know it’s a fluid situation on if they can actually host it. It will be revisited as the date gets closer. Otherwise, it’s a bridge we will cross if the situation arises.”
Muenster City Manager Stan Endres, Lindsay City Secretary Monica Laux and Callisburg City Secretary Marlye Howe all confirmed those cities are also following the county’s protocol. Event organizers can reach Muenster City Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org; Lindsay officials at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org; and Callisburg City Hall at email@example.com.