On Monday afternoon, Houston officials ordered bars to close their doors and implemented new restrictions on restaurants to help slow the spread of coronavirus throughout the city.
Harris County judge Lina Hidalgo announced that, starting tomorrow at 8 a.m., bars and nightclubs across the city will be closed for the next 15 days. Restaurants will be allowed to stay open for delivery, pick-up, and drive-thru service, but must close their dining rooms. Hidalgo also stressed that Houstonians should plan to stay in their homes unless they need to leave to buy food or medicine or seek medical treatment.
Hidalgo also said that she spoke with the Houston chapter of the Texas Restaurant Association and took their urging to allow restaurants to stay open for delivery and takeout to heart when making these decisions. “We are at a pivot point with the trajectory of the virus,” Hidalgo said during the press conference. “History will say that we acted to save human lives. If we erred, we erred on the side of human life.”
The announcement comes just hours after the White House instructed Americans to “avoid” dining in at restaurants and going to bars, and follows in the footsteps of other major cities across the country that have temporarily banned dining in, including Los Angeles, Boston, and New York City. Within the state of Texas, the city of Dallas became the first major Texas city to implement an order requiring all restaurant dining rooms and bars to close shortly before Houston made the move.
Before the official order came down, some Houston restaurants and bars decided to preemptively close their doors or revamp service in order to get ahead of the inevitable closure order. Montrose cocktail bar Anvil Bar and Refuge announced that it would close until further notice on Monday afternoon, while other establishments switched to take-out only and introduced delivery service.