Texas announces shutdown amid coronavirus crisis

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Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday issued an executive order that will close schools, restaurants, bars and gyms in an effort to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Speaking to reporters from the state Capitol, Abbott said the order prohibits dining or eating at restaurants and bars, but “to go” orders are still permitted. He said that Texans must limit social gatherings to 10 people and may not visit nursing homes except for critical care.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is joined by state and city officials as he gives an update on the coronavirus outbreak.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is joined by state and city officials as he gives an update on the coronavirus outbreak. (AP)

“Working together, we must defeat COVID-19 with the only tool that we have available to us – we must strangle its expansion by reducing the ways that we are currently transmitting it,” Abbot said. “We are doing this now, today, so that we can get back to business as usual more quickly.”

Essential services and critical operations like grocery stores and pharmacies will be allowed to remain open. Schools that haven’t already shut their doors will remain closed for the remainder of the timeframe.

Abbott had for days deferred virus-related issues, like closing businesses and schools, to local officials. He said the statewide order is to make sure Texas is in line with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

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He clarified that the order was not a “shelter in place.” He said Texans may venture out of their homes but stressed that they needed to exercise caution.

While residents are still allowed to go to work, Abbott recommended that employees work from home if they are able to.

The governor’s executive order begins at midnight Friday and lasts through midnight April 3.

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As of Thursday, Texas has at least 221 confirmed cases of the coronavirus with three deaths, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.