AUSTIN, TX — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Thursday prohibiting dine-in eating at restaurants as well as gatherings of more than 10 people, a public health disaster declaration amid the new coronavirus outbreak. In addition, he ordered schools and gyms to close by noon Friday through at least April 3.
The order effective at midnight Friday would still accommodate food delivery, takeout and curbside pickup — measures already being taken in cities implementing local-jurisdiction prohibitions on gatherings — but dining inside is banned for now to encourage social distancing.
Abbott’s actions lag behind those of other governors elsewhere in the United States who had already implemented similar bans. In the past few days, Abbott has been repeatedly asked about the lack of a statewide prohibition in the face of the growing COVID-19 threat, saying he would defer to local governments to make the call.
Lacking a statewide order until now, the mayors of Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and other citiies had already issued municipal orders to shut down bars and restaurants. In the state capital, for instance, Mayor Steve Adler on Tuesday joined Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt in issuing dual orders effectively closing down restaurants and bars to avert potential contagion. Across the state, restaurant operators have pivoted their business models to offer patrons options of takeout, delivery and curbside pickup — some for the first time — in efforts to generate sales and stay financially afloat during the moratorium.
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