Mayor Bobby Hocking has ordered all entertainment venues, including dog track Gulf Greyhound Park, closed for 30 days or until further notice; all restaurants closed except for takeout, delivery and drive-through business for seven days or until further notice; and all bars closed for 30 days.
“For the health, safety and welfare of our citizens, I had no other option but to limit the amount of exposure our folks have in large groups,” Hocking said. “I encourage all to order delivery and carry out from our great restaurants.”
Hocking declared a state of emergency in La Marque on Friday in response to the spread of coronavirus in Galveston County. Galveston Mayor Jim Yarbrough issued similar orders to Galveston businesses on Tuesday, but the county at this point hasn’t asked other businesses where groups gather to close.
Galveston County has announced four suspected cases of COVID-19, including one that suggests a north county man might have been infected by the virus within the community, not by traveling elsewhere.
The closure of entertainment venues in La Marque became effective at 11 p.m., Wednesday.
“We don’t have a lot of movie theaters or things like that here, but by entertainment venue we mean anywhere people go for entertainment purposes,” said Charles “Tink” Jackson, city manager. “That’s bingo halls, Gulf Greyhound Park, game rooms, event centers, anywhere people might gather for entertainment purposes.”
Bars and restaurants are expected to close their dining rooms effective 8 a.m. today. Restaurant owners may continue offering takeout, drive-through and delivery services, according to the mayor’s order.
“Many of them were already following these guidelines on their own and are to be commended for doing so,” Hocking said. “Working together as a community, we will come through this like family.”
Leaders of other mainland communities on Tuesday said they weren’t ready to follow Galveston and La Marque in placing higher restrictions on businesses.
Mainland cities face different issues than Galveston, which not only has to worry about spread among residents but also among thousands of tourists who visit the city, Texas City Mayor Matt Doyle said.
“We are much different than Galveston, we are not a tourist town,” Doyle said. “Our restaurants appear to be self-imposing their restrictions — taking out and picking up. Mayor Yarbrough did the exact right thing for a tourist town; we’re just not that.”
Texas City issued a disaster declaration on Tuesday, Doyle said. The city took that measure so small businesses would be eligible for whatever kind of support is available, Doyle said.