Denton County announced Wednesday night that it is ordering many businesses to close and requiring restaurants to not offer dine-in service.
Denton County Judge Andy Eads issued an amended Disaster Declaration for Public Health Emergency, giving stricter guidelines for the public as the coronavirus pandemic spreads.
“We are taking these mandatory aggressive measures now with the first case demonstrating community spread in Denton County,” Eads said.
Earlier on Wednesday, Denton County Public Health officials confirmed three additional cases of 2019 Novel Coronavirus in Denton County, bringing the total number to five. One of the cases involves a male resident of Lewisville in his 40s, who is in isolation and critical condition in a Denton County hospital after local transmission.
The new executive order is effective as of 11:59 a.m. on Thursday. The order:
- Restricts all community gatherings across Denton County to 50 people or fewer
- Orders the closing of all bars, lounges, taverns, nightclubs, gyms and health clubs, theaters, and entertainment or amusement venues. Restaurants, for now, may remain open for drive-through, delivery, pick-up and curbside service only. Dine-in service is prohibited.
- Due to this national public health emergency, President Trump has asked landlords to not proceed with eviction processes at this time. The Office of the Denton County Judge asks landlords to take this into serious consideration during these times of uncertainty.
- Nursing homes, retirement, short- and long-term care facilities are instructed to prohibit non-essential visitors from accessing their facilities unless to provide critical assistance or for end-of-life visitation.
- If someone in a household has tested positive for coronavirus, the remaining household members are ordered to isolate at home for a period of 14 days. Members of the household cannot go to work, school or any other community function.
- This order removes restrictions on delivery times to or from any entity involved in the selling or distribution of food products, medicine or medical supplies in Denton County for the next 60 days.
- Public and private schools and institutions of higher education are encouraged to update their Multi-Hazards Emergency Operations Plan as defined by Texas Education Code 3.108 at least 72 hours before students return to classroom settings.
This order will be effective until 11 a.m. on March 25, until it is either rescinded, suspended or amended pursuant to applicable law.
“As your county government, it is our responsibility to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all Denton County residents,” Eads said. “Your health and safety has been at the center of our discussions from the onset of this virus. We do not take these decisions lightly. However, we must act early, act decisively and act aggressively to flatten the curve in the community spread of this disease. These actions are meant to spare lives.”
Denton County has chosen to take a proactive step by limiting public access to county buildings.
“Your support and understanding in this measure is greatly appreciated and your assistance in this effort strengthens our partnership for the health and safety of everyone,” Eads said. “We are taking these measures to be in step with health guidelines for social distancing as well as to ensure county government operations continue effectively on your behalf.”
A number of Denton County offices will be closed for walk-in traffic effective Thursday, but many will take scheduled appointments. Please contact them before your arrival to schedule a time. In addition, many county services are available online. Check the county’s website at www.DentonCounty.gov.
“I know that these restrictions will impact many of our residents and businesses,” Eads said. “We want them to know that these measures are not being undertaken lightly and are being enacted solely with the health and wellbeing of all our residents in mind.”
Small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and some private nonprofit organizations that have suffered substantial economic injury due to COVID-19 may be eligible for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan of up to $2 million, which will provide the necessary working capital to help businesses survive until normal operations resume after a disaster. Visit https://tdem.texas.gov/covid-19/ and submit your Economic Injury Worksheet to: [email protected] and [email protected]. This is not an application for an SBA loan.
“Our dynamic county, though experiencing fast growth, has always had the same core values of caring for each other in good times and in tough times. We have been and will continue to be Denton County Strong,” Eads said.