Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in Texas, US, to lift restrictions on some businesses starting April 24. Stay-at-home order in place through April 30.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Houston, Texas
  • Austin, Texas
  • Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • El Paso, Texas
  • Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas
  • Amarillo, Texas
  • Brownsville, Texas
  • Corpus Christi, Texas
  • Harlingen, Texas
  • Laredo, Texas
  • Longview, Texas
  • Lubbock, Texas
  • McAllen, Texas
  • Midland-Odessa, Texas
  • San Angelo, Texas
  • Del Rio, Texas
  • Abilene, Texas
  • Galveston-Texas City, Texas
  • Killeen, Texas
  • Wichita Falls, Texas
  • Waco, Texas
  • Tyler, Texas
  • College Station, Texas

This alert began 22 Apr 2020 13:45 GMT and is scheduled to expire 30 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Texas (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least late April
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions; heightened security

Summary
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has issued executive orders to lift some business restrictions in the state starting April 24, while maintaining the stay-at-home order through at least April 30, as part of the state's efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The orders stipulate that retail businesses can provide services through pickup or delivery starting 0001 April 24. Employers must screen workers for any symptoms, must enhance sanitation, make sure employees maintain a proper distance of 1.8 meters (6 feet) from each other, and that all have face masks. Authorities have also allowed non-emergency medical procedures to resume only if they do not deplete the healthcare center's capacity or equipment. State parks have reopened, but visitors are required to wear face masks, maintain distance from others, and avoid gatherings. Other nonessential businesses can continue operating only with employees working from their homes.

Essential businesses, such as grocery stores and companies working in food production and distribution, healthcare facilities and pharmacies, banks, fuel stations, and those in the transport, communications, security, and critical manufacturing industries, will remain in operation. Essential government services will continue to be provided, and houses of worship will remain open. Schools will remain closed for the remainder of the academic year. The stay-at-home order will continue until at least April 30. Residents may leave their homes to obtain basic services, care for a person in need, or to perform outdoor recreational activities while maintaining a proper distance from others.

Officials in Texas had previously ordered air travelers entering the state from certain locations elsewhere in the US to self-quarantine for 14 days. The measure requires anyone entering Texas by air from the states of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, California, Louisiana, and Washington, as well as from the cities of Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, and Miami to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. The order does not apply to persons in transit to locations outside of Texas, nor to those involved in military, emergency, health, or critical infrastructure operations. Persons driving into Texas from Louisiana must also self-quarantine for 14 days unless they are participating in essential operations.

Significant transport and business disruptions are likely. Authorities will almost certainly deploy additional security personnel to assist in enforcing any such measures that may be implemented. Officials could amend orders on short notice, depending on disease activity.

Background and Analysis
The relaxation of some measures are likely to accelerate in the coming weeks; however, restrictions may be reimposed or extended further should the number of COVID-19 cases increase. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential operations in the areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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