Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has ordered the temporary closure of bars in the city and unincorporated areas, and that restaurants are to move to delivery, pick-up, and drive-thru only. The move starts at 8 am Tuesday, March 17, and will last for 15 days. It is meant to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.
At a Monday, March 16 press conference, Hidalgo noted that for the next 15 days:
- Restaurants are to only offer delivery, pick-up, and drive-through services.
- All bars and clubs must close.
- For citizens: “Unless you need to go out, stay home.”
“We are all watching the evolution of this virus and its spread,” explained Hidalgo, adding that the emergency response at Houston TransStar is at Level One, the highest possible.
At the same conference, Mayor Sylvester Turner said that city council will meet to declare a state of disaster. All City of Houston events will be suspended until the end of April, he added. “None of these decisions we’re having to make are easy decisions,” he said. Turner added that he took his cue from the recent Center of Disease Control national advisories of limiting exposure to groups of 10 or less.
He also noted that Houston is now the fourth large American city to implement these measures: New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago have ordered bars, restaurants, and other gathering places closed to slow the spread of coronavirus.
“If we don’t take definitive action now, all of us will pay a much greater cost down the road,” said Turner.
“Simply put, the decisions all of us including our healthy residents make could affect if someone lives or dies,” Hidalgo said. She pleaded to her fellow Millennials to help: “You should not be going out into any crowd.”
“History will say that we prioritized human life,” Hidalgo added. “We can make a difference right now and that’s what we’re all doing right now.”
She also asked residents not to hoard as the city’s food supply is “good.” Hidalgo added that the county is pursuing those who are price gouging or selling bogus coronavirus cures.
Hidalgo also asked for volunteers for various charities (sign up here) and added that CenterPoint Energy is planning to work with gas bills.
The coronavirus testing timeline is still being determined, according to the judge.
On Monday, March 16, President Trump also advised that Americans should avoid groups of 10 or more.
CultureMap will update this story.