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Coronavirus prompts Dallas and Houston to close bars and clubs, make restaurants takeout only

Last updated on March 23, 2020

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by Stacy Fernández and Sami Sparber, The Texas Tribune

Nightlife in two of America’s largest cities is shut down for at least the next week in an aggressive attempt to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, the mayors of Dallas and Houston announced Monday afternoon.

The move comes after a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday to cease all gatherings of 50 or more people in the coming eight weeks. On Monday morning, the nation’s largest cities — including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago — announced similar measures.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson ordered the closing of all Dallas bars, lounges, taverns, nightclubs, gyms and health clubs, theaters, music venues, and entertainment establishments such as arcades and billiard halls.

Restaurants in Dallas and Harris counties for now may remain open for drive-through, takeout and delivery, but dine-in service will be prohibited.

“As of right now, Dallas has the most aggressive rules of all the major cities in Texas for minimizing and slowing the spread of COVID-19,” Johnson said at a press conference, minutes before Houston leaders announced similar plans.

In Houston, the new rules go into effect at 8 a.m. Tuesday and will last for at least 15 days. The Dallas shutdown starts before midnight Monday and will last at least a week.

As of noon Monday, Dallas and Harris counties were among the top three counties with the most coronavirus cases in the state. There were at least eight coronavirus cases in Dallas County, which has seen community spread, and at least 10 cases in Harris County, according to state and CDC data.

“I understand the pain this decision will create,” Johnson said. “Dallas has a robust and diverse economy that has grown in recent years. We have world-class event venues, theaters and entertainment options. I love to tell people from out of town that Dallas is the reigning Bon Appetit Restaurant City of the Year.

“We are proud of our service industry and our vibrant, diverse economy. But this is the time when we have to focus on the greatest asset we have: our people and our communities,” he added.

Asked if Dallas is considering a curfew, Johnson said city officials are not actively looking at implementing one right now, but he “can’t say that any tool is not on the table.”

The Dallas emergency regulations, which also included prohibiting community gatherings of more than 50 people, will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. Monday, Johnson said.

 “Coronavirus prompts Dallas and Houston to close bars and clubs, make restaurants takeout only” was first published at by The Texas Tribune. The Texas Tribune is proud to celebrate 10 years of exceptional journalism for an exceptional state.

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