On Tuesday afternoon, Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell issued a Stay Home, Stay Safe Order for Williamson County. The order went into effect at midnight March 25 and will continue until 11:59 p.m. April 13.
“We know that a virus knows no boundaries, so our Williamson County cities have come together and are united in this fight. We are joining our neighboring counties to show that we stand together to provide safety in the region,” said Judge Bill Gravell.
Shelter in place orders are traditionally used by local officials during or immediately after an emergency. Shelter in place orders generally close all nonessential businesses and prohibit their employees from leaving their homes to work, though the definition of “essential” businesses can vary depending on the specifics of the order.
With this order in place, the goal is to prevent exceeding hospital capacity and to avoid overwhelming the health care system by flattening the curve and reducing the spread of the coronavirus.
Taylor Mayor Brandt Rydell said he understands that the order may be met with some criticism and anxiety from the community. However, he fully supports the action.
“For the health and safety of us all, particularly our most vulnerable, I believe it to be absolutely necessary,” he said. “If we look across the globe at places that have most successfully “flattened the curve,” managing COVID-19 to a point that it did not overwhelm their hospitals and health systems, it was those countries that implemented aggressive social distancing measures sooner rather than later.”
All non-essential businesses are ordered to close under these directives, leaving only hospitals, fire departments, law enforcement and limited essential businesses including grocery stores and pharmacies open.
Exceptions include performing essential activities, such as purchasing food, and going to and from essential businesses and essential government services or perform construction, including housing.
“I understand that these enhanced measures will have a further negative impact on our local economy. But this is literally a matter of life and death,” Rydell said.
In addition to practicing safety measures, he re-emphasized that people should not panic.
“We need to take this challenge seriously, and we need to use common sense. We should not be prone to hyper-individualistic behaviors such as hording,” he said. “That runs exactly counter to the sense of community and cooperation that will get us through this period.”
He said social distancing should be taken seriously, and this order can help reduce points of human contact by up to 90%.
“That would be ideal,” Rydell said. “It really takes all of us working together for the good of the whole community. We’re all in this together.”