Five states close dine-in restaurants, bars over coronavirus concerns; will Texas be next?

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — All restaurants and bars in five states will close to the public for at least a couple weeks to try to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

The governors of Washington, Ohio, Massachusetts, Illinois and Michigan announced bans on dine-in options over the weekend. Mayors in New York City and Los Angeles announced similar closures. Take-out and delivery will still be available in all those states and cities. California‘s governor urged restaurants, bars and wineries to close, but they can stay open if they choose at half their normal capacity.

Texas, meanwhile, has not taken such wide-ranging steps. A spokesperson for Gov. Greg Abbott told KTRK in Houston Sunday he didn’t want to order restaurants and bars to close, adding cities will make the decisions that are best for them.

The Texas Restaurant Association said closing establishments in the state would “drive panic and complete societal breakdown.” The group is urging state and local leaders to allow restaurants to keep operating, at least for take-out and delivery. “This will drive ‘no contact’ and ensure people have food to eat and in turn provide those [restaurant] employees income to support their own families,” the association said.

Restaurants in Austin are dealing with the spread of COVID-19, the disease the new coronavirus causes, in a variety of ways. Austin Public Health on Sunday announced the number of confirmed cases in the area is up to six, and the city decided to close libraries, pools, golf courses and other recreation facilities.

New rules require all restaurants in Austin to provide hand sanitizer to patrons, display “Help Prevent Disease” signage, disinfect surfaces at least once an hour and let workers go home if they develop a fever of more than 100.4°F.

The pizzeria Via 313 will temporarily close its dining rooms starting Monday, going to a curbside pickup model. “The most important thing we can do is take care of each other,” the restaurant “We apologize for any inconvenience and hope you’ll support us in moving forward with what we believe to be the best option for the health and well-being of the community.”

Olamaie closed its doors after its service Sunday night. In a post on Facebook, the southern food restaurant said it aims to reopen on May 1, and salaried employees in the meantime will continue to earn wages at a reduced rate. Employees will keep their health insurance through April.

Torchy’s Tacos is changing its operating hours in response to the disease. Hours will vary by location.

Nationwide chains, including Starbucks and Chick-fil-A, are closing dine-in options, opting only for to-go orders in an effort to promote social distancing during the outbreak.

Austin-based delivery service Favor added a “doorstep delivery” option for customers so they don’t have to interact directly with drivers. Grubhub is promoting that option on its delivery platform, too, writing in a note to customers that they can now choose where a driver drops off a delivery, whether at the door, in the lobby of an apartment complex, or somewhere else.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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