Water use limits in effect as of July 14

The City of Georgetown is enacting water use restrictions as a result of increasing landscape and lawn irrigation. Yesterday, the City’s water utility reached 85 percent of water treatment capacity on three consecutive days and is enacting Stage 1 of the Drought Contingency Plan, effective Tuesday, July 14.

During Stage 1 of the DCP, customers may not water their lawns between the hours of noon and 7 p.m. Irrigation before noon or after 7 p.m. will avoid the hottest daytime hours and let the water reach the roots of your lawn.

“Our water customers should look to ensure they are not watering during the heat of the day,” Director of Water Utilities Glenn Dishong said. “Watering during the hottest part of the day results in significant evaporation and water waste. We are enforcing our watering rules with the goal of avoiding more serious limits, such as watering only one day per week.”

Make sure you are only watering on your scheduled days based on your address (see graphic), not watering from noon to 7 p.m., and never watering on Mondays.

Stage 2 of the DCP is triggered when water use reaches 90 percent of capacity for three consecutive days. If water use continues to increase, further watering restrictions will be enacted.

Find your watering schedule, details on rebates, programming your controller how-to videos, and information on water planning and our water system at water.georgetown.org. For questions about the watering schedule and water use limits, contact Customer Care at 512-930-3640 or customercare@georgetown.org.

Georgetown updates mask order to require face coverings in public

All people age 10 and older in Georgetown are required to wear face coverings while in public, with some exceptions, according to updated orders issued Friday, July 3, by Mayor Dale Ross. The orders reflect additional restrictions authorized by Gov. Greg Abbott on July 2. The governor’s orders also prohibit outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people at a time, without mayoral approval.

Read Georgetown’s updated orders here.

Read Gov. Abbott’s Executive Order GA-29 here.

Georgetown’s revised order expands upon previous requirements for commercial businesses to adopt and post health and safety policies requiring masks in the premises whenever physical distancing of six feet isn’t possible. Businesses still must adopt and publicly post health and safety policies by July 3. Those policies can include additional restrictions, such as taking temperatures, at the business’s discretion.

The Georgetown order will remain in place until Williamson County reports a positive test rate of 7 percent or fewer over a two-week average. The Georgetown order is similar to those in other Williamson County cities, including Round Rock, Hutto, Taylor, Leander, and Cedar Park.

“It was great to learn Gov. Abbott has joined me and other mayors in Central Texas in acknowledging the importance of requiring masks, so we can slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities and across the state,” Mayor Ross said. “With these new orders, the governor has used good judgement in giving more authority back to local officials, who have the best view into how this pandemic is affecting our fellow neighbors. In these dangerous times, we have to be able to act quickly to protect our communities. The City Council, staff, and I are committed to do everything we can to protect the health and safety of the good people of Georgetown.”

Face coverings do not substitute for the need to maintain physical distancing. Face coverings, combined with physical distancing, decrease the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Enforcement 

While the City will prioritize education, both the State and local orders allow for fines to be assessed for violations.

Individuals who believe the orders are being violated by individuals or businesses in Georgetown can report it to the Georgetown Police Department’s non-emergency number: 512-930-3510.

Businesses found in violation of the order, including failure to post a health and safety policy, may be given a citation and fined up to $1,000 per offense. Individuals found in violation will be given a verbal warning upon first offense, and a fine of up to $250 per additional violation.

If a business has a customer who is unwilling to abide by the order, the business can ask the individual to leave. If they refuse to leave, the business can call the police department’s non-emergency number and officers will respond. No one can be jailed for violating mask orders, but if an individual who refused to wear a mask refuses to leave, the individual may be arrested and charged with criminal trespassing.

For more information and updates, visit bit.ly/COVID19GTX.

Updated: I-35 lane closures July 6, 8, 9 for Northwest Boulevard Bridge

Update: The lane closure planned for July 7 was postponed due to rain. Closure of southbound lanes is planned for overnight on Wednesday, July 8 and closure of the southbound access road lane is planned for overnight on Thursday, July 9, weather permitting.

Lane closures on I-35 will be in effect just north of Williams Drive in the overnight hours July 6-8, weather permitting, as work crews place concrete safety barriers for the Northwest Boulevard bridge project.

Two northbound I-35 main lanes will be closed starting at 10 p.m. Monday, July 6, through 5 a.m. Tuesday, July 7.

Two southbound I-35 main lanes will be closed starting at 10 p.m. Tuesday, July 7, through 5 a.m. Wednesday, July 8.

One southbound I-35 frontage road lane will be closed starting at 10 p.m. Wednesday, July 8, through 5 a.m. Thursday, July 9.

Once the concrete safety barriers are in place, work will begin to drill the piers for the bridge.

Overnight lane closures on I-35 will be needed periodically in the next few months during the construction of the bridge piers and the placement of bridge beams.

The Northwest Boulevard bridge will be a new east-west connection over the interstate and an alternative to Williams Drive. The project connects Rivery Boulevard to the west and FM 971 to the east.

The Northwest Boulevard project was approved by Georgetown voters in the 2015 transportation bond election. RPS is the design engineer on the project and Chasco Constructors is the contractor.

Hwy. 195 and Berry Creek Drive project complete

A construction project to improve safety on Hwy. 195 at Berry Creek Drive has been completed. The crossover at Berry Creek Drive closed permanently yesterday. Access to and from Berry Creek Drive on Hwy. 195 is now via turnarounds at either side of the intersection. (See map.)

The $776,000 project by the Texas Department of Transportation added auxiliary lanes and turnarounds at the intersection, as well as lighting, signage, and safety barriers. The contractor for the project was Angel Brothers Construction.

City facility closings on July 3

City offices and facilities will be closed Friday, July 3, for the Independence Day holiday. Facilities closed on Friday, July 3, include:

  • Airport Terminal, 500 Terminal Drive
  • Animal Shelter, 110 W.L. Walden Drive
  • City Hall, 808 Martin Luther King Jr. St.
  • Library, 402 W. Eighth St.
  • Municipal Complex, 300-1 Industrial Ave.
  • Municipal Court, 510 W. Ninth St.
  • Parks and Recreation Administration, 1101 N. College St.
  • Planning Department, 406 W. Eighth St.
  • Public Safety Operations and Training Center, Police Records and Fire Support Services offices, 3500 D.B. Wood Road
  • Visitors Center, 103 W. Seventh St. (will be closed July 3-5)

The following City facilities that typically have Saturday hours will be closed Saturday, July 4:

  • Animal Shelter, 110 W.L. Walden Drive
  • Library, 402 W. Eighth St.
  • Recreation Center, 1003 N. Austin Ave.
  • Tennis Center, 400 Serenada Drive
  • Visitors Center, 103 W. Seventh St. (will be closed July 3-5)

Pools Schedule for July 3 and 4

On Friday and Saturday, July 3 and 4, the outdoor pools at Village and Williams Drive will be open from 1 to 6:30 p.m. The outdoor pool at the Recreation Center will be open from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Friday, July 3, and closed on Saturday, July 4.

The outdoor splash pads at San Jose Park, Rabbit Hill Park, and downtown at Ninth and Main streets also will be operating on July 3 and 4.

July 4 fireworks canceled

The July 4 celebration and fireworks display in San Gabriel Park has been canceled due to COVID-19 safety and physical distancing concerns.

GoGeo bus service

There will be no service Friday, July 3. Saturday service has been canceled due to COVID-19.

Regular solid waste and recycling collection

There will be regular solid waste and recycling collection for City of Georgetown customers on Friday, July 3. For questions about trash or recycling collection, call Texas Disposal Systems at 512-930-1715.

The Collection Station at 250 W.L. Walden Drive will be open normal hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, July 3.

Three Georgetown Fire Department employees test positive for COVID-19

Three Georgetown Fire Department firefighters have recently tested positive for COVID-19. These are the first cases of public-facing City employees testing positive for COVID-19 in Georgetown.

The firefighters all work in three different City facilities and wore personal protective equipment when interacting directly with the public. All staff who were exposed to the confirmed COVID-19 positive employees were evaluated for exposure risk, symptoms, and, when recommended, COVID-19 tests, and appropriate action was taken. Employees who are exposed and/or developing symptoms are identified through the COVID-19 screening and exposure process. The City follows CDC guidance and works closely with the Williamson County and Cities Health District to minimize COVID-19 risk to employees and the community.

At this time, the City has enough staffing to continue to meet service demand and is working through plans to address any staffing shortages as they arise. Due in part to the increasing occurrence of COVID-19 within the community, we expect more employees to test positive for COVID-19 in the coming weeks, and will share that information only when residents will see a change in services.

While most City facilities are open to the public and offering limited services, all employees and visitors are required to maintain physical distance and wear masks when that is not possible. Employees also are required to take their temperatures upon entering a City facility. Given the recent spikes in our area, the City is reviewing additional closures to keep the public and staff safe.

“I want to thank all our City employees, who have remained dedicated and committed to serving this community throughout these uncertain, stressful times,” City Manager David Morgan said. “Our thoughts are with our affected employees and their families. We are making every effort to care for our employees and maintain their privacy.”

It is important for everyone to continue to take measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 to keep our medical professionals, public safety professionals, friends, family, and neighbors safe.

The City and other health and government partners continue to stress the importance of practicing good personal hygiene and maintaining social distance during essential activities to disrupt the spread of the virus. Proper hygiene practices include:

  • Stay home whenever possible, especially when you are sick.
  • Maintain a physical distance of 6 feet between yourself and others when you’re outside.
  • Do not gather in groups of 10 or more.
  • Wear a mask, particularly if physical distance can’t be maintained.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue to cover it, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

For health-related questions about COVID-19, call the WCCHD hotline at 512-943-3600.

For Georgetown COVID-19 updates and information, visit bit.ly/COVID19GTX.

Georgetown businesses to require face coverings for employees and customers

In consultation with other mayors in Williamson County and out of growing concerns about the alarming increase in COVID-19 cases in the community and the increasing number of those hospitalized and in the ICU, Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross issued an order to impose additional requirements on businesses.

Read Georgetown’s order here.

Employees and customers at commercial businesses should begin wearing face coverings immediately. Starting Friday, July 3, businesses in Georgetown will be required to adopt and enforce health plans that require face coverings for visitors and staff when physical distance cannot be maintained. This applies to all commercial businesses that directly serve the public, as well as City facilities.

The order will remain in place until Williamson County reports a positive test rate of 7 percent or fewer over a two-week average. The Georgetown order is similar to those in other Williamson County cities, including Round Rock, Hutto, Taylor, Leander, and Cedar Park.

“We know masks help against the spread of COVID-19, and that is our top priority now,” Mayor Dale Ross said. “The State and Williamson County have left this decision up to local jurisdictions. My fellow Williamson County mayors and I are not taking this step lightly. However, based on recommendations from the local health authority, we know it is our best shot to ensure the collective safety of all county residents, while allowing businesses to continue to operate.

“This is particularly true for Georgetown, with the large number of vulnerable people in our community,” he said. “Here, we are a family. We care about one another. No matter our differences, we always show up to support one another. Wearing a mask and keeping our distance when we’re out in public is a small price to pay to show we love and care for our neighbors.”

The order states that, at a minimum, businesses must require all employees and visitors age 10 or older to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth, when 6 feet distance cannot be maintained. The order allows for a few exemptions:

  • When exercising or engaging in physical activity outside;
  • While driving alone or with passengers who are part of the same household as the driver;
  • When wearing a mask poses a mental or physical health, safety, or security risk;
  • While pumping gas or operating outdoor equipment;
  • While in a building or activity that requires security surveillance or screening, like banks; and
  • When consuming food or drink.

Businesses may also implement other measures to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, such as temperature checks or health screenings.

The order states businesses must post the health and safety policy or plan in a location where employees and visitors can see it.

“The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce’s mission is to facilitate economic success for our community and believes Mayor Ross took the necessary step, which will help protect our community, prevent another shut down, and ensure our businesses can be successful moving forward,” Chamber President Jim Johnson said. “Many businesses in Georgetown already require masks, physical distancing, and other safety requirements. This order makes those practices standard across all facilities, and supports our local business owners, their employees, and their efforts to keep Georgetown safe and open for business.”

These orders apply to commercial businesses and City facilities. Exemptions from this order include other governmental agencies, such as federal buildings, State offices, and school districts; construction activity; and places of worship. However, all entities are encouraged to voluntarily adopt similar requirements.

Enforcement

Individuals who believe the order is being violated by a business in Georgetown can report it to the Georgetown Police Department’s non-emergency number: 512-930-3510. Businesses found in violation of the order will be given a citation and fined up to $1,000 per offense.

If a business has a customer who is unwilling to abide by the order, the business can ask the individual to leave. If they refuse to leave, the business can call 911. Georgetown police will respond, and if the individual still refuses to leave, the individual may be arrested and charged with criminal trespassing.

Face coverings

Face coverings do not substitute for the need to maintain physical distancing. Face coverings, combined with physical distancing, decrease the risk of spread.

“Our community’s health takes everyone’s participation,” said Derrick Neal, Williamson County and Cities Health District executive director. “The best way to keep the balance of safety and the ability to be outside our homes will require everyone to follow the CDC guidelines that have been proven to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Wearing face coverings and social distancing have proven to be the most effective ways to reduce the spread of germs.”

For maximum effectiveness, the face covering should cover both the nose and mouth and attach securely behind the ears. Coverings should be washed after each use with hot water and detergent, and hands should be washed immediately after touching the cover.

Face coverings should not be placed on children younger than two years old, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance.

People experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, even mild ones, need to stay home, except to seek medical care. Mild symptoms in COVID-19 positive patients include:

  • Sore throat
  • Body aches
  • Headaches
  • Change in the ability to smell and taste
  • Nasal congestion

For more information and updates, visit bit.ly/COVID19GTX.

City closes Blue Hole Park to enforce physical distancing orders

Effective Friday, June 26, Blue Hole Park is closed to the public until further notice to help enforce physical distancing.

The section of the trail going through Blue Hole Park will also be closed, and barricades will be installed at Scenic Drive and at Rock Street to close off the trail. Access to the trail via the low water crossing below the dam also will be closed off. Restrooms will be closed as well.

“Due to the large crowds that continue to gather in our small, Blue Hole Park and the spiking number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Williamson County, we are closing the park out of an abundance of caution and to better ensure the safety of our residents,” Mayor Dale Ross said. “We encourage every Georgetown resident to please, take this threat to our health and safety seriously. Please stay home if you can.

“The keys to our safety are to keep your distance, wear a mask, and wash your hands,” Ross said. “Our community is in this together, and your neighbors are counting on you.”

Park and trail users are encouraged to follow CDC guidance and practice physical distancing by remaining a minimum of six feet away from anyone you pass on the trails and avoid areas where people may gather.

For more information about City services, community resources, and frequently asked questions about COVID-19, visit bit.ly/COVID19GTX.

July 4 Celebration canceled due to COVID-19 concerns

The 37th annual Sertoma Club Family July 4 Celebration and fireworks display has been canceled due to COVID-19 safety and physical distancing concerns.

“While we tried to find creative ways to continue this year’s celebration, City Council felt it would be in the best interest of public health and safety to cancel,” Mayor Dale Ross said. “With COVID-19 cases rising in our community at an alarming rate, it’s more important now than ever to be vigilant about keeping our distance, avoiding gatherings with people outside our homes, wearing face coverings, and disinfecting surfaces and our hands frequently.”

A factor in the decision to cancel the fireworks display was concern that residents from other nearby cities where fireworks have already been called off would come to Georgetown, which would increase the potential for crowding in city parks.

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Williamson County has continued to increase at new, daily records for the past week. Hospitalizations continue to hit all-time highs and are expected to continue to increase throughout the next two weeks, putting a strain on hospital, ICU, and ventilator capacity. The most recent COVID-19 case count and hospitalizations can be found on the Williamson County and Cities Health District dashboard.

By City ordinance, fireworks are not allowed in the city limits or within 5,000 feet of the city limits, unless they are used in a permitted display authorized by the Georgetown Fire Department. This area outside city limits includes, but is not limited to, the neighborhoods of Cedar Hollow, Crystal Knoll, Escalera, Fountainwood, Indian Creek, Logan Ranch Road, Lost Rivers, Oak Crest, Olde Oak Estates, Serenada, Shady Oaks, Turtle Bend, and Woodland Park, and areas along D.B Wood Road.

Violations can lead to fines of up to $2,000. To view a map showing the 5,000-foot boundary, go to maps.georgetown.org/fireworks-ban-area-map.

Other COVID-19 updates

2020 Music on the Square: To encourage social distancing, the City will hire buskers to play on corners of the Square on Thursday evenings in July and August.

Blazin’ Beer Crawl: Due to COVID-19 safety concerns, this event has been canceled.

Parks and Recreation:

  • Garey Play Ranch and Splash Pad and other splash pads – Will open June 25
  • Garey Park hours will remain at 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Creative Playscape in San Gabriel Park – Open date tentative pending repairs
  • Groups using parks facilities should not exceed 10 individuals.

The Council is expected to discuss options and triggers for additional restrictions, as well as the rescheduled Red Poppy event (still scheduled for Oct. 23 to 25) at its July 14 meeting.

For a full list of openings and access to City services during the COVID-19 response, visit bit.ly/COVID19GTX.

Downtown Parking Ambassadors return to service, City continues phased opening

The City will reinstate downtown parking enforcement June 15, after nearly two months of suspending the program.

Parking enforcement had been suspended at the direction of Police Chief Wayne Nero because of limited parking demand due to the county’s Stay Home Stay Safe Order.

As businesses have continued to reopen, parking has once again become a premium on the Square. This week, parking ambassadors began counting vehicles parked in excess of the allotted 3-hour time limit.

According to the City’s Downtown Parking Ordinance, on-street parking is limited to 3-hours in certain areas between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. First violations will receive a written warning. Each subsequent violation for the same vehicle within the calendar year will receive the following fines:

  • $20 for second violation
  • $50 for third violation
  • $100 for fourth or more violations

For more information, contact the Downtown Parking Ambassadors at (512) 930-6530, or refer to the Downtown Parking Ordinance.

City facilities reopening update

Based on the Governor’s Executive Order GA-26, issued June 3, the City is opening additional facilities or increasing capacity limits on facilities. Those attending facilities or events should continue to observe 6-foot physical distancing and considering wearing a mask or face covering to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19.

Lobbies opening beginning June 15 during business hours

  • Animal Services, 110 W.L. Walden Drive
  • Parks and Recreation Administration, 1101 N. College St.
  • Planning Department, 406 W. Eighth St.

Parks and Recreation – June 15 openings and increases to capacity limits

  • Recreation Center (now open at 50 percent capacity)
  • Tennis Center (50 percent capacity)
  • Outdoor and Recreation Center pools, except for River Ridge pool (25 percent capacity)
  • Community Center (50 percent capacity)
  • Garey House (50 percent capacity)
  • Day Camps (Camp Goodwater) at Recreation Center (50 campers only)
  • Outdoor athletic field rentals

Remaining closed/canceled:

  • Garey Play Ranch and Splash Pad
  • Other splash pads
  • Creative Playscape in San Gabriel Park
  • Other summer camps such as tennis, adventure, volleyball, soccer, Junior Fire and Police academies, Kid City, adaptive, enrichment camps

The City is still evaluating its outdoor summer events schedule.