AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – As cases of Covid-19 continue rising in Texas, Governor Greg Abbott issued statewide restrictions Thursday on public gatherings and restaurants among other things.
“All jurisdictions must work to contain the spread of Covid-19 for at least the next two weeks.”
His order begins after 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 20 and extends to midnight April 3.
The Governor said he may have to extend it.
Under his order, restaurants and bars across the state won’t be allowed to have any people dining in.
Only take-out and delivery are permitted.
Also under the Governor’s order, no social gatherings of groups larger than ten will be allowed.
All gyms and massage studios will have to close, along with all schools.
And no visitors will be allowed at nursing homes, retirement centers, and long-term care facilities unless they’re providing critical care.
After initially allowing individual cities and counties to set their own restrictions, the Governor said statewide restrictions are now needed.
The Governor’s order came after Texas State Department of Health Services Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt issued the state’s first public health disaster declaration since 1901.
At the news conference with Governor Abbott Thursday, he said, “Covid-19 is the greatest public health challenge in living memory.”
Since the Governor’s first emergency declaration last Friday, the number of Covid-19 cases in Texas has jumped from 39 to 83 Wednesday and to 143 Thursday.
More than 2,300 people in Texas are being monitored for possibly having the virus.
Four people have died.
Governor Abbott issued a warning for those who ignore the order.
“The state now has quarantine authority. We don’t want to exercise that authority. If Texans are irresponsible in behavior though, there are more tools where we can be more aggressive.”
In Frisco, Mayor Jeff Cheney took some heat from residents who criticized him for allowing restaurants to operate without restrictions, while the city of Dallas and Dallas County set restrictions on restaurants and bars among other places early this week.
Cheney said, “I certainly welcome any criticism from any of our residents. We’re trying to work through a very difficult time together.”
He praised Governor Abbott’s statewide order. “
From the very beginning, we felt like the State of Texas should make a statewide, unified approach to it. What happened when local government entities are making different decisions, then people start to panic.”
John Kinsch, chef and owner of the Community Grill in West Frisco worries how he and other small restaurants will be able to survive. “I think you’re going to see a lot of restaurants go out of business and I’m going to do everything I can not to.”
Kinsch said 90% of business at his restaurant is dine-in, and just ten percent is take-out.
So he’s very worried now about his 30 employees who mostly rely on tips. “It’s devastating.”
One of Kinsch’s customers, Josh Garcia said he’s not concerned he could be exposed to Covid-19 by dining in.
“I don’t know that I’m saving anybody’s life coming or not going, taking out or eating at home. We had the day off and wanted to get out and have a good meal.”