Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order, tied to a historic public health declaration by the state health commissioner, banning nursing home and retirement center visits (except for critical care), closing gyms and schools, and prohibiting eating and drinking at restaurants.
The governor also encouraged Texans to heed President Trump’s coronavirus task force recommendations and avoid gatherings of 10 or more people. He said the ban goes into effect midnight Friday and lasts until midnight April 3, a few weeks before Plano’s similar order ends.
It does not, however, prevent domestic travel or trips to the banks or grocery store. Restaurants will be also allowed to offer curbside or takeout service.
“It may be extended after that, depending on the status of COVID-19 in Texas as well as recommendations from the CDC,” Abbott said.
Texas currently has nearly 250 coronavirus cases: 55 in Dallas, 13 in Collin, and 5 in Denton counties. Those numbers are expected to increase as more testing becomes available. Four Texans have died due to coronavirus-related issues.
At Thursday’s press conference, Abbott stressed that only by working together will we “strangle [COVID-19’s] expansion by reducing the ways that we are currently transmitting it.”
This move, of course, will affect hundreds of thousands in the service industry, many of whom are worried about paying bills and putting food on the table. Abbott mentioned unemployment benefits have been streamlined to make qualifying and receiving them easier and pointed out that the federal government is currently working to send relief money, known as “business interruption payments,” to Americans who are affected by the coronavirus.
Trump is seeking $1,000 direct payments for adults and $500 for children, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox Business Network Thursday. “As soon as Congress passes this, we get this out in three weeks,” he said. “Then, six weeks later, if the president still has a national emergency, we’ll deliver another $3,000.”
The $3,000 is the amount a family of four would receive. If you’re single, you might receive another $1,000 three weeks later if the coronavirus is still ravaging communities around the nation.
(Gov. Abbott’s declaration begins at the 14:05 mark.)