Austin-Travis County restaurants and bars closed, gatherings of 10 or more banned

Austin+Mayor+Steve+Adler+and+Travis+County+Judge+Sarah+Eckhardt+announced%C2%A0early+Tuesday%2C+March+17+that+all+restaurant+dining+rooms+and+bars+in+the+Austin-Travis+County+area+will+be+closed+and+gatherings+of+10+or+more+people+will+be+banned.

Photo by: Visit Austin

Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt announced early Tuesday, March 17 that all restaurant dining rooms and bars in the Austin-Travis County area will be closed and gatherings of 10 or more people will be banned.

Faith Lawrence, Managing Editor

Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt announced early Tuesday, March 17 that all restaurant dining rooms and bars in the Austin-Travis County area will be closed and gatherings of 10 or more people will be banned. Adler and Eckhardt decided upon these bans in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Violation of these restrictions will result in a $1,000 fine. 

These restrictions were set in place in accordance to President Donald Trump and his Coronavirus Task Force’s recommendations made in a public announcement on Monday, March 16. Trump’s recommendation expands upon the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise that gatherings of 50 or more people be prohibited. 

“I think these bans will limit some family time outside of the house, but we will be spending a lot of time at home with each other due to school cancellations,” junior Audrey Smith said. “Although these bans are restricting us from hanging out with our friends in large groups, Travis County is doing its best to keep us safe.” 

Other cities in Texas like Houston and Dallas closed their restaurants on Monday, March 16 and restricted gatherings of 50 or more people. 

“Our city and county are at a critical point in time where we can take certain steps to prevent a community spread,” Interim Health Authority for Austin-Travis County Dr. Mark Escott said. “As we look at other cities and states that are experiencing the spread of the virus at a faster pace, it is evident that we need to increase our measures to keep our residents safe and healthy.”

These restrictions will be set in place from Tuesday, March 17 until Friday, May 1 if no changes are made. Despite the closing of restaurant dining rooms, delivery and take-out options at restaurants are still allowed. Additionally, these restrictions do not apply to pharmacies and grocery stores. 

“I have gone to a few restaurants recently and not many people are eating out anyways, so I think most people are probably going to cook from home,” freshman Nadia Petru said. “My family likes to go out to eat but I think we’ll just spend more time cooking, which isn’t really a bad thing.”

There are already reports of 10 cases of Coronavirus in Austin as of 7 P.M. Monday, March 16 according to the the City of Austin’s website

“Our acts, individually and collectively, will determine how fast and how hard the virus hits our city,” Adler said. “We know today’s order will create huge hardships for many and we resolve to do all we can to address the economic impact this virus is having. But public health must remain our first priority and the experts tell us these are steps we must take. As we have done before, we’ll do this together and help each other.” 

*The story will be updated by Dispatch staff as more information is available.