Mass Gathering Information

Thinking about hosting a gathering in Ellis County Unincorporated Areas?

Planning for Public Safety, Parking, and Traffic

Before you do, check out some guidelines that must be met by Ellis County. There are penalties for not meeting the following guidelines.

All gatherings must be emailed to EllisCountyGatherings@co.ellis.tx.us.  

See below requirements

 

Gathering VS Mass Gathering Requirements

Gathering (Plan required but, not a Permit) VS Mass Gathering (Plan and Permit Required)


Gatherings of 500 - 2,499 individuals 

No permit is required, but you must email the following to EllisCountyGatherings@co.ellis.tx.us

Email Requirements must include:

  • Event Name:
  • Event Host:
  • Event Host Contact Information:
  • Event Location:
  • Expected Occupancy:
  • Email must include fire safety and traffic plan.

See the following guidelines that must be abided by in Fire Code: Chapter 4, Emergency Planning and Preparedness

  • Section 403.1, Fire watch personnel
  • Section 403.1.1, Duties of fire watch personnel
  • Public safety plan section 403.2: fire code official determines that an indoor or outdoor gathering of persons has an adverse impact on public safety through diminished access to buildings, structures, fire hydrants and fire apparatus access roads or where such gatherings adversely affect public safety services of any kind, the fire code official shall have the authority to order the development of, or prescribe a plan for , the provision of an approved level of public safety.
  • Content of plan section 403.2.1: shall address such items as emergency vehicle ingress and egress, fire protection, emergency medical services, public assembly areas and the directing of both attendees and vehicles ( including the parking of vehicles), vendor and food concession distribution, and the need for the presence of law enforcement, and fire and emergency medical services personnel at the event.
  • Section 403.3 Crowd Managers: trained crowd managers shall be provided for facilities or events where more than 1,000 persons congregate. The minimum number of crowd managers shall be established at a ratio of one crowd manager to every 250 persons. Where approved by the fire code official the ratio of crowd managers shall be permitted to be reduced where the facility is equipped throughout with an approved automatic sprinkler system or based upon the nature of the event.
  • Please submit traffic plan per Texas Penal Code § 42.03. Obstructing Highway or Other Passageway


Mass Gatherings 2,500+

Permit Required

See the following guidelines that must be abided by in Fire Code: Chapter 4, Emergency Planning and Preparedness

  • Section 403.1, Fire watch personnel
  • Section 403.1.1, Duties of fire watch personnel
  • Public safety plan section 403.2: fire code official determines that an indoor or outdoor gathering of persons has an adverse impact on public safety through diminished access to buildings, structures, fire hydrants and fire apparatus access roads or where such gatherings adversely affect public safety services of any kind, the fire code official shall have the authority to order the development of, or prescribe a plan for , the provision of an approved level of public safety.
  • Content of plan section 403.2.1: shall address such items as emergency vehicle ingress and egress, fire protection, emergency medical services, public assembly areas and the directing of both attendees and vehicles ( including the parking of vehicles), vendor and food concession distribution, and the need for the presence of law enforcement, and fire and emergency medical services personnel at the event.
  • Section 403.3 Crowd Managers: trained crowd managers shall be provided for facilities or events where more than 1,000 persons congregate. The minimum number of crowd managers shall be established at a ratio of one crowd manager to every 250 persons. Where approved by the fire code official the ratio of crowd managers shall be permitted to be reduced where the facility is equipped throughout with an approved automatic sprinkler system or based upon the nature of the event.
  • Please submit traffic plan per Texas Penal Code § 42.03. Obstructing Highway or Other Passageway

(A) A person commits an offense if, without legal privilege or authority, he intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:
(1) obstructs a highway, street, sidewalk, railway, waterway, elevator, aisle, hallway, entrance, or exit to which the public or a substantial group of the public has access, or any other place used for the passage of persons, vehicles, or conveyances, regardless of the means of creating the obstruction and whether the obstruction arises from his acts alone or from his acts and the acts of others; or
(2) disobeys a reasonable request or order to move issued by a person the actor knows to be or is informed is a peace officer, a fireman, or a person with authority to control the use of the premises:
(A) to prevent obstruction of a highway or any of those areas mentioned in Subdivision (1); or
(B) to maintain public safety by dispersing those gathered in dangerous proximity to a fire, riot, or other hazard.
(b) For purposes of this section, "obstruct" means to render impassable or to render passage unreasonably inconvenient or hazardous.
(c) An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor.
 

If your event meets the above requirements, please email request for a mass gathering application to:

EllisCountyGatherings@co.ellis.tx.us for 2,500+ with the following information included (required)


  • Event Name:
  • Event Host:
  • Event Host Contact Information:
  • Event Location:
  • Expected Occupancy:
  • Email must include fire safety and traffic plan

Additionally, a permit is required for those events including “a horse or greyhound race that attracts or is expected to attract at least 100 persons, except that this chapter does not apply if the race is held at a location at which pari-mutuel wagering is authorized under the Texas Racing Act.” See Tex. Health and Safety Code §751.0021.


Additional Requirements


Open Texas Guidelines

Ellis County falls under Governor Abbott’s Executive Orders in regards to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic. The following checklists for COVID-19 mitigation procedures will need to be followed. 

Governor Greg Abbott has issued Executive Order 29 requiring all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces, with few exceptions, in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases. Open Texas checklists are now updated consistent with this order.
 

The Governor also issued a proclamation giving mayors and county judges the ability to impose restrictions on some outdoor gatherings of over 10.


As of July 3rd, 2020 - Ellis County Judge Todd Little has allowed gatherings of over 10 as long as the below check lists are followed.
Open Texas Checklists for Events

  • All Employers and Event Organizers
  • Outdoor Events
  • Outdoor Motorsports Events
  • Rodeo / Equestrian Events 

For more information and guidelines, please visit: Open Texas


Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Mass Gathering?

What is considered a mass gathering?

HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE TITLE 9. SAFETY SUBTITLE A. PUBLIC SAFETY CHAPTER 751. MASS GATHERINGS


From time to time, businesses or organizations may seek to hold events in unincorporated areas of the County which would qualify as a Mass Gathering under the Texas Health and Safety Code Chapter 751 which states:

"Mass gathering" means a gathering: (Ellis County has amended their mass gatherings to 1,000 people or more.)

  1. that is held outside the limits of a municipality;
  2. that attracts or is expected to attract:
    i. more than 2,500 persons; or
    ii. more than 500 persons, if 51 percent or more of those persons may reasonably be expected to be younger than 21 years of age and it is planned or may reasonably be expected that alcoholic beverages will be sold, served, or consumed at or around the gathering; and
  3. at which the persons will remain:
    i. for more than five continuous hours; or
    ii. for any amount of time during the period beginning at 10 p.m. and ending at 4 a.m.

PERMITS FOR MASS GATHERINGS 

 

How is the mass gathering permit process initiated? 

 

Code §751.004(a) requires the event promoter to apply for a permit from the county judge no later than the 45th day before the date the event is scheduled to take place. The elements required by the application are set out in Code §751.004(b), and include adequate protection for traffic control and public health and safety. 

 

For a mass gathering, how does the promoter or the county make a determination that 51 percent or more of the persons attending the event may reasonably be expected to be younger than 21 and it is planned or expected that alcohol will be sold, served, or consumed? 

 

There is no formula, but the key word is “reasonable.” 

For example, an Australian children’s group is coming to the county to hold an afternoon concert and expects a crowd between 1,000 and 2,000 to attend. While it is reasonable to assume that more than 51% of the attendees will be less than 21 years of age, it is also unlikely that alcohol will be served or consumed at the event. This event would not fit within the definition of a mass gathering. Note that the music concert does not fall under the definition of an outdoor music festival because it takes place on a single day and fewer than 5,000 attendees are expected. 

On the other hand, if the event was instead for an Australian rock band with the same anticipated attendance numbers, it would be reasonable to expect that 51% of the attendees would be under 21 and also that alcohol would be present and consumed. This event would be considered a mass gathering requiring a county permit. Again, it would not be considered an outdoor music festival. 

 

May the county judge delegate authority to issue a permit? 

 

Yes. The county judge may file a written order with the commissioners court designating a county officer to exercise his or her authority to hear applications for mass gathering permits under Code Chapter 751. The judge may revoke the delegation at any time, either in general or in relation to a particular permit application. 

For example, the county judge in a particular county has long transferred the authority to hear mass gathering permits to the sheriff. However, the county has just received a petition to hold a racing event that will attract hundreds of thousands of attendees, a gathering by an order of magnitude larger than any the county has ever held before. The county judge may decide to make the determination on this particular event and withdraw the delegation from the sheriff for the one specific permit application.

 

When must the hearing be held? 

Under Code §751.006, the hearing must be held not later than 10 days before the scheduled date of the mass gathering. The county judge sets the date and time of the hearing and provides notice to the promoter and each person with an interest in whether or not the permit should be granted. The Code does not provide guidance on how to determine when a person has an “interest.” The county health authority, sheriff, and county fire marshal (or designee) must be present at the hearing to give testimony relating to their reports. At the hearing, any person may appear and testify for or against granting the permit. 

6. Under what circumstances may the county judge reject a permit? 

 

Under Code §751.007(b), the county judge may deny the permit if the judge finds the application is inadequate or contains false information, the promoter's financial backing is insufficient, the location selected for the mass gathering is inadequate, the preparations to limit the number of persons attending the mass gathering or to provide adequate supervision for minors attending the mass gathering are inadequate, the promoter does not have assurance that the scheduled performers will appear, the promoter cannot ensure minimum standards of sanitation and health, the preparations do not ensure the mass gathering will be conducted in an orderly manner and that the physical safety of persons attending will be protected, adequate arrangements for traffic control have not been provided, or if adequate medical and nursing care will not be available.

 

May the county judge’s decision be appealed? 

Yes. The promoter or a person affected by granting or denying the application may appeal the decision to a district court having jurisdiction in the county in which the mass gathering will be held. Health & Safety Code §751.009. 

 

May the county judge revoke a permit after it has been granted? 

 

Yes. Under §751.008, the county judge may revoke the permit if he or she determines preparations for the event will not be complete by the scheduled date or the permit was obtained through fraud or misrepresentation. The county must provide at least 24 hours’ notice before the revocation to the promoter. At the promoter’s request, the county judge must hold a hearing on the revocation. The permit revocation may be appealed to district court by the promoter or a person affected by the revocation. 

 

Does the county have any authority over the mass gathering once it has begun? 

Yes. Under Code §751.012, the county health authority, sheriff, and county fire marshal (or the person granted the marshal’s authority) may inspect the mass gathering during the gathering to ensure the minimum health and safety and public safety standards are being maintained. If it is determined that a violation of the standards is occurring, the health authority, the sheriff, or the fire marshal (or designee) may order the promoter to correct the violation. Failure to comply with an order issued by one of these authorities is a Class C misdemeanor.