Houston-area city, county officials order bar closures, limit restaurants to takeout only

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announces that all bars in Harris County must close by 8 a.m. March 16 for 15 days. In the same period, restaurants must only offer takeout.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announces that all bars in Harris County must close by 8 a.m. March 16 for 15 days. In the same period, restaurants must only offer takeout.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announces that all bars in Harris County must close by 8 a.m. March 16 for 15 days. In the same period, restaurants must only offer takeout.

Effective 8 a.m. March 17, all Houston and Harris County bars must close, and restaurants are ordered to only offer takeout, city and county officials announced March 16. The precautions will remain in place for 15 days.

The measure is part of an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus, which public health officials have struggled to contain due to low testing capacity and infected individuals’ possible ability to pass the virus without showing symptoms, Dr. David Persse, Houston director of emergency medicine said. President Donald Trump and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance March 16 to limit all gatherings to 10 people or less.

"All of these attempts are everything we can do to help slow the transmission of this virus in our community," Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said. "We want to do everything we can to delay the progression, to delay the number of individuals that are exposed and to delay the number of individuals who seek care from our health care system."

The effort comes on the heels of other large metropolitan areas ordering similar measures, including in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle and Boston. Encouraging residents to stay home as often as possible is the best way to prevent rapid community transmission of the virus and reduce the strain on area medical resources, Persse said.

Grocery stores are not ordered to close, and H-E-B, Kroger and Randalls representatives said the region's food supply chain remains strong. The stores are now offering limited hours to give more time to restock shelves, they said at an earlier press conference. They are also ramping up sanitation efforts and actively hiring new employees to help meet demand while appealing to those who may be temporarily under- or unemployed due to the crisis.


Some local restaurant owners had already been adapting to the pandemic by offering curbside pickup, delivery and gift card options.

Business owners will be able to apply for low-interest loans through the Small Business Association, Hidalgo said. Houston Public Works will also not cut off water service to those who are overdue on payments, and Centerpoint Energy is offering flexibility on natural gas payments. Hidalgo said she is appealing to area municipal districts to implement similar measures.

Earlier in the month, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced the cancellation of the Houston Live Stock Show and Rodeo and all city-sponsored and -produced events through the end of March. He also asked employers to encourage telecommuting. Local school districts and universities are extending spring breaks and considering more long-term closures. HISD and other local districts are offering curbside meal pickups while schools are out of session.

View updated coronavirus case counts here.

Emma Whalen



MOST RECENT

EMS calls for suspected heart attacks are down nearly 50% since the coronavirus outbreak began in Houston. (Courtesy Houston Public Health)
Houston officials worry COVID-19 fears are driving down necessary hospitalizations

"You don't need to be afraid of catching the coronavirus at the hospital. Hospitals are safe to go to," Dr. David Persse said.

A march for George Floyd culminated at Houston City Hall on May 29. Another march is planned for June 2. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)
Ahead of June 2 George Floyd march, Mayor Turner calls for peace, coronavirus protection

The march is led by Houston rappers Bun B and Trae Tha Truth and by members of George Floyd's family.

Demonstrators gathered at the Texas Capitol on May 31 to protest police brutality. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas officials respond to demonstrations, unrest in wake of George Floyd killing

Gov. Greg Abbott issued a state of disaster in Texas on May 31, while various city officials and law enforcment responded to protests and violence over the weekend.

A week after tentative reopening, Penny Quarter in Montrose closes

A week before, the cafe said it was tentatively reopening as coronavirus restrictions began to relax further.

Italian restaurant Patrenella's, located off of Washington Avenue in the Sixth Ward area, has closed. (Matt Dulin/Community Impact Newspaper)
After 28 years, Sixth Ward Italian restaurant Patrenella's permanently closes

"All good things must come to an end; and after 28 glorious years, our time is now," a message from the restaurant reads.

The Houston Police Department wants to give George Floyd's funeral a police escort, chief Art Acevedo said. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Police Chief Acevedo wants to give police escort for George Floyd's funeral

He said he will provide more details at a rally scheduled for Tuesday, June 2 where protesters will march to City Hall.

The rate of new cases being confirmed is still up compared to the end of April and early May. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: Weekly total of new cases falls after two weeks of increases

The rate of new cases being confirmed is still up compared to the end of April and early May.

Amid COVID-19, Montrose-area resources step up support for vulnerable populations in LGBTQ community

Efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus are compounding the challenges some members of the LGBTQ community were already facing.

Texas Medical Center continued to see week-over-week decreases in the total number of active COVID-19 hospitalizations but also saw a significant increase in patient deaths, the medical center reported May 29. (Community Impact staff)
Texas Medical Center sees another week-over-week decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations

Texas Medical Center continued to see week-over-week decreases in the total number of active COVID-19 hospitalizations but also saw a significant increase in patient deaths, the medical center reported May 29.

In a bid to help sustain The Dunlavy, 3422 Allen Parkway, Houston, for the summer, Clark Cooper Concepts opened the new pop-up concept Daddy's Burgers on May 29. (Courtesy Clark Cooper Concepts)
Summertime popup Daddy's Burgers opens shop in The Dunlavy

In a bid to help sustain The Dunlavy, 3422 Allen Parkway, Houston, for the summer, Clark Cooper Concepts opened the new pop-up concept Daddy's Burgers on May 29.

The Willie's Grill & Icehouse restaurant in Copperfield is temporarily closed after reopening in mid-May. (Courtesy Willie's Grill & Icehouse Copperfield)
Study predicts coronavirus spike and other top Houston-area stories

Read some of the most popular Houston-area content on Community Impact Newspaper’s website from this week.

The syrup drums being repurposed into rain barrels were donated from Coca-Cola. (Courtesy Galveston Bay Foundation)
Galveston Bay Foundation to host virtual, drive-thru rain barrel workshop

The Kemah-based nature conservation nonprofit is hosting a rain barrel workshop this weekend for Houstonians thirsting for a way to help conserve the community’s water supply.