Shelter-in-Place FAQs

Mandatory “Shelter-in-Place”:  What You Need to Know
To further combat the spread of COVID-19, Longview Mayor Andy Mack has issued a mandatory “Shelter-in-Place” order. The orders direct all residents of Longview or Gregg County to stay inside their residences, and immediately limit all movement outside their homes beyond what is absolutely necessary to take care of essential needs. On those occasions when you are out of your home for necessary tasks, stay at least six feet away from others

Does the shelter-in-place order mean we are under a Lockdown? Are we allowed to leave our homes? Can we go in or out of the city?
We are not under Lockdown. The Shelter-in-Place order does limit non-essential travel, but you are still able to leave your home and travel into and out of the city to perform essential activities, operate essential businesses, or maintain essential governmental functions. On those occasions when you are out of your home for necessary tasks, stay at least six feet away from others. 

How do I prove that I am allowed to be outside?
At this time there is no requirement of proof that you are allowed to be outside your residence because the Shelter-in-Place guidelines presume that citizens will adhere to their civic duty and follow the guidelines for the greater good of the community.

When do the mandatory orders go into effect and how long will it last?
The mandatory orders go into effect Thursday, March 26, at 11:59 p.m.  and continue through Thursday, April 9 at 11:59 p.m.  

The duration can be either shortened or extended by the Gregg County Judge and/or Mayor according to jurisdiction. It is intended that the orders would be in place for only as long as necessary, and officials, in coordination with the Gregg County Public Health District, will be closely monitoring the situation daily in order to determine what adjustments are appropriate.

Is there a curfew?
No, not at this time. 

Is this order mandatory? What happens if I don’t comply?
It is mandatory, and is a legally enforceable order. You may be punished by a fine or imprisonment for failing to comply.

Why is this happening now?
These mandatory Shelter-in-Place orders are being issued now because it is urgent that we slow and stop the spread of COVID-19 in Gregg County and Longview. 

The virus spreads easily, and these guidelines are intended to prevent the spread of this disease from overwhelming our healthcare system. The goal here is to “flatten the curve” to slow down the spread of the virus and ensure we have adequate health care resources for those who get sick with COVID-19 and those who need emergency medical care for accidents, heart attacks, strokes, and other routine medical conditions. 

What is considered essential travel? Am I still allowed into or out of the city?
Non-essential travel is prohibited.  Yes, travel is still allowed into or out of the City to perform essential activities, operate essential businesses, or maintain essential governmental functions. Essential travel includes:

  • Any travel related to the provision of or access to Essential Activities, Essential Governmental Functions, Essential Businesses, or Minimum Basic Operations;
  • Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons;
  • Travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and any other related services;
  • Travel to return to a place of residence from outside the jurisdiction;
  • Travel required by law enforcement or court order
  • Travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the City.  Individuals are strongly encouraged to verify that their transportation out of the City remains available and functional prior to commencing such travel.

What is considered a home or residence? What about hotels? What about individuals experiencing homelessness?
For the purpose of the Shelter-in-Place orders, the term residence includes houses, hotels, motels, shared rental units, and similar facilities.

Individuals experiencing homelessness are exempt from the requirement to shelter within a residence, but are strongly urged to obtain shelter. Furthermore, entities are strongly urged to make such shelter available as soon as possible and to the maximum extent practicable while still utilizing social distancing practices.

Can I go outside, walk in my neighborhood, or go to the park? 
Yes, going outside is considered an essential activity. You may do a variety of outdoor activities while still maintaining social distancing. Parks are still open at this time. 

Can I still order the things I need online and have them delivered to my residence?
Yes. The guidelines identify businesses that deliver goods or services directly to residences may continue to operate.  But keep your social distance by staying six feet from the person delivering the item.

Can I use public transportation, ride share, or a taxi?
Only for essential travel. Public transit and transportation services may continue to operate. In circumstances under which such transportation is needed, you should still practice social distancing, cover your mouth and nose if you cough or sneeze, use hand sanitizer or wash your hands before and after rides. 

What should I do if I’m sick or a family member is sick? 
If you are feeling sick, please first call your primary care doctor, a nurse hotline, or an urgent care center before going to the hospital. Check online resources like the CDC website if you are worried that you or a loved one has the COVID-19 virus. Do not go to the emergency room of a hospital unless you have deemed that you have an actual emergency. Call 911 or go to the emergency room if you are experiencing a medical emergency. Longview has also established a COVID-19 hotline which you may call at 903-237-1215 for more information. 

Can I leave home to care for my elderly parents or friends who require assistance to care for themselves? Or a friend or family member who has disabilities?
Yes. Be sure that you protect them and you by following social distancing guidelines such as washing hands before and after, using hand sanitizer, maintaining at least 6 feet of distance when possible, and coughing or sneezing into a tissue.

Do the Shelter-in-Place orders allow me to have my children in childcare?  Will my daycare be shut down?
Childcare facilities may continue to operate so they can provide services that enable employees to work at Essential Businesses. However, to the extent possible, parents and guardians are encouraged to supervise children at home during this time period. 

What about Retail Stores? Can I still go shop?
During a mandatory Shelter-in-Place, some non-essential retail stores are closed. Some retail stores, such as hardware stores, grocery stores, and stores that provide products or services for other essential businesses, are considered essential and would be encouraged to remain open. 

Is there a penalty for a person or business that does not comply with the Shelter-in-Place Guidelines? 
Yes, penalties can be enforced. 

What is the difference between “Shelter-in-Place” and “social distancing”?
Shelter-in-Place is a stricter form of social distancing. There are some differences. Shelter-in-Place means:

  • Stay home (stay unexposed and do not expose others)
  • Only go out for essential services
  • Stay six feet or more away from others
  • Don’t gather in groups

The other concepts from social distancing will continue to apply when you are out shopping or walking or going to the doctor. These include washing hands, using hand sanitizer, disinfecting surfaces, not going out if sick, and staying at least six feet away from others at all times.

What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a highly contagious new disease caused by a virus called Coronavirus. Its symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath — and may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure.