AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) – Governor Greg Abbott has extended his disaster declaration to limit human contact to prevent the spread of coronavirus, meaning schools are closed until at least May 4.
Additionally, the governor said any law enforcement officer in the state can enforce his executive order.
Violators could face a fine or a jail sentence of up to 180 days. Anyone who violates it can also be subject to a quarantine order.
Abbott said residents can should avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts, and visiting gyms or massage establishments, and it expands the order to include tattoo studios, piercing studios and cosmetology salons.
Protocols also allow exceptions for essential activities and services based on the Department of Homeland Security’s guidelines on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce.
Examples of essential services include: healthcare, grocery stores, banking and financial services, utilities, child care for essential service employees, and government services.
Here’s the full list of essential services:
- Healthcare / public health
- Law enforcement, public safety, and other first responders
- Food and agriculture
- Water and wastewater
- Transportation and logistics
- Public works and infrastructure support services
- Communications and information technology
- Other community- or government-based operations and essential functions
- Critical manufacturing
- Hazardous materials
- Financial services
- Defense industrial base
- Commercial facilities
- Residential/shelter facilities and services
- Hygiene products and services
But people can still enjoy outdoor activities like hiking and fishing, as long as they can social distance appropriately.
“Social distancing is our best tool in the fight against COVID-19, and the actions we have taken thus far have proven to be effective in limiting the spread of this virus,” said Governor Abbott. “Now it is time to redouble our efforts to reduce further exposure as much as possible and flatten the curve.”
In accordance with federal guidelines, people are still prohibited from visiting nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities, or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance.
“The efforts of Texans across the state have slowed the spread of the coronavirus but as the President has made clear we are not yet done with our response. We cannot forfeit the gains we have already made by cutting short the task,” said Abbott. “We have come too far to falter now. We have made tremendous strides but we have not reached the destination. We have more to do for Texas to reach its determined destiny, together we will persevere through this for another month, together we are going to heal our state, together we will ensure that the Lone Star State continues to shine.”
The governor also touched on availability of hospital beds, saying that 2.4% of the hospital beds in the state are currently taken by COVID-19 patients. That means 97.6% of beds remain vacant for future patients with the virus.
“Importantly as you look at the numbers, it remains true that less than 10% of the people tested test positive for COVID-19. Just over 11% of those who test positive need to go to the hospital. Most of these numbers very importantly were the result of personal interactions of people in the State of Texas before the distancing practices that have gone into place the last couple weeks… so it is one thing that’s clear. When you look around your community like I have in Austin or as I have seen videos and photographs from so many regions across the State of Texas, one thing is clear. Distancing practices you all are doing are working, there are fewer people who can transmit the disease from one person to another,” said Abbott.
Abbott said the idea of “drive-in” church service is a possibility on Easter.