Houston Bars Ordered to Close; Restaurants To Offer To-Go or Delivery Only

At a press conference just after 5 p.m. this evening, Judge Lina Hidalgo ordered all Houston bars to close, as well as restaurant dining rooms. The move is intended to limit places where people can congregate and, therefore, community spread of the COVID-19 virus. The rule goes into effect at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, March 17 — a day when historically, people crowd pubs and taverns to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day — and is in place for 15 days.

Restaurants and bars with food menus can continue serving the public via pick up, drive-through and delivery services. We’ve been working on a list of restaurants that already have those services in place and will continue updating it in the coming days. Restaurant owners who would like to be added can email us.

“When the CDC issued its guidelines indicating its [gathering] limit of 50, it did change things,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. In addition, both Hidalgo and Turner cited President Donald Trump’s earlier press conference recommending an even steeper limit of 10 as influencing the decision.

Another factor cited by both Hidalgo and Turner was personal observations over the weekend that large crowds were congregating and not adhering to the previously issued social distancing guidelines. “The fundamental point is you should not be part of a big gathering,” said Hidalgo.

The decision closely follows the city of Dallas, which also closed bars and restaurant dining rooms earlier today.

“We’ll continue working diligently to get this situation under control,” said Turner.

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