MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas — Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough extended a disaster declaration for the county as well as announced new guidelines for food and drink establishments and movie theaters to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The disaster declaration has been extended for 30 days after it was first declared on March 12.
The county is also ordering all restaurants to reduce occupancy of the entire premise to 50 people or less at any one time in total. Tables shall be spaced a minimum of 10 feet apart.
All restaurants may continue to-go, takeout, delivery, and catering operations.
Movie theaters shall also limit occupancy to 25 persons or less per screen at any one time.
“It Is a modified version of just stay home. We have to operate our businesses, we do have to go from here to there. We have to shop and we have to get groceries,” Keough said.
The order goes into effect at 3 p.m. Tuesday.
Other guidelines include:
- Restaurants shall not allow any employee to report to work who is sick.
- Strict handwashing and sanitizing operations must be deployed.
The county said a lack of compliance could result in shut down and the order could be amended or extended at any time.
The orders remains in effect until April 1, or until the county rescinds or extends it by a future order.
For some local restaurants, like Crabby Daddy, the new rules will mean quite an adjustment. Owner Nick Chagouris said his restaurant fills with more than 100 people at times.
"It's interesting -- not enough time to process it at all. When I do the math, it doesn't make a lot of sense with my overhead and my staff," Chagouris said.
But just like other restaurants, he said he will comply. He hopes he can stay afloat.
Other restaurants in the area are already making adjustments to try and keep business coming. Most fast-food restaurants in the county have already closed their dine-in options and are only taking drive-through orders.
At Carmelita's Mexican Restaurant, Wayne Overbay said he plans to "offer more takeout and homemade tamales."
The symptoms of coronavirus can be similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80 percent of the cases there were mild.
But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk.
The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed.
Human coronaviruses are usually spread through...
- The air by coughing or sneezing
- Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
- Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.
Help stop the spread of coronavirus
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Eat and sleep separately from your family members
- Use different utensils and dishes
- Cover your cough or sneeze with your arm, not your hand.
- If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.
Lower your risk
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.
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