Uvalde County officials have updated the local disaster declaration due to COVID-19 and will reopen the courthouse to the public on Monday, albeit with certain restrictions.
Despite the opening, many court cases will continue to be adjudicated via teleconference. Also, entry to the building will be limited to the east-side door, and staff is in the process of making modifications to the doors and to customer counters to protect employees.
Uvalde County Judge Bill Mitchell said before an individual is allowed into the building their temperature will be taken, and anyone with a body temperature of 100 degrees or greater will not be permitted into the facility. Visitors will be asked a few health related questions, and they are requested to wear a mask.
County staff asks that no more than two people utilize the elevator at one time, and that social distancing be practiced in the restrooms, preferably limiting the facilities to one person at a time.
Staff have instituted an increased cleaning schedule for common areas such as doorknobs and restrooms, and staff will be sanitizing surfaces every hour.
In court settings a mask will be required per the Office of Court Administration. Jury trials will not be held until further guidance is issued, which is expected to be later this month.
At the end of April, Mitchell was able to attest to the Texas Department of State Health Services that Uvalde County had fewer than five active cases of COVID-19, which allows certain businesses to operate at 50 percent capacity, as opposed to the original 25 percent decreed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Businesses affected by this include retail establishments, wedding and reception venues, restaurants, museums and libraries and swimming pools. Other nearby counties that were able to attest to five or fewer active cases of coronavirus as of May 6 are Bandera, Kinney and Medina counties.
Mitchell issued the original declaration of local disaster for a public health emergency on March 17. The initial declaration was valid for seven days, and the commissioners’ court has twice chosen to extend the order for 30-day periods.
All Uvalde County offices closed to the public on March 24, at 8 a.m. Employees still reported to work, and county offices have been staffed. During this time, members of the public needing to do business with county officials have been able to telephone or email the appropriate person.
In-person appointments have also been made for those requiring them.