Johnston

Anderson County Judge Robert Johnston

Anderson County will order all “non-essential” businesses closed, effective 12:01 a.m. Thursday, Judge Robert Johnston told the Herald-Press Wednesday.

The order will affect dozens of businesses in Anderson County, such as bowling alleys, barber shops, clothing and shoe stores, and hair and nail salons. Some non-essential businesses have already closed due to widespread fear of COVID-19.

The county directive stems from Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order, in effect through April 30, that states every Texan shall “except where necessary to provide or obtain essential services, minimize social gatherings, and minimize in-person contact with people who are not in the same household.”

The order will not affect essential service businesses, such as grocery stores, gas stations, daycare providers, pharmacies, dry cleaners, laundromats, and liquor stores.

Even essential service businesses, however, must comply with social distancing guidelines, maintaining at least six feet between customers. The order does not close take-out food venues or drive-throughs, such as “Cream and Coffee” in Palestine.

Also on Wednesday, Johnston said a Harris County resident who works in Anderson County was confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus. That case is not included in Anderson County's official COVID-19 count – now at one.

On Tuesday, Anderson County reported its first confirmed case of COVID-19. The patient remains quarantined in her home.

Mayor Steve Presley said Anderson County has adequate tests for people who meet federal criteria for potentially carrying the coronavirus. The county, however, does not know how many tests have been conducted locally. Most tests statewide are processed in private labs that, up to now, have not reported to the state.

“Essential services” are determined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). A complete list of essential services is at: www.tdem.texas.gov/essentialservices.

“If you're on the list, close,” Presley said. “If you're not sure, we (city and county officials) will be contacting you in the next two or three days.”

On Thursday, law enforcement officers in Anderson County will tell businesses remaining open in violation of the order to close immediately.

Businesses affected by mandated closures should contact the Small Business Administration to learn about available COVID-19 support and resources: https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/coronavirus-covid-19

Information on how to slow disease transmission at https://www.MyNETHealth.org/coronavirus.

Non-essential businesses ordered closed include:

Entertainment Venues and Facilities: Movie theaters, theaters, auditoriums, performing arts centers, bowling alleys, arcades, concert venues, museums, bingo halls, social clubs, nightclubs, and bars.

Close-contact service providers: Barber shops, hair and nail salons, spas, waxing/eye threading salons, piercing and tattoo shops, tanning salons, and massage therapy services.

Recreational facilities: fitness, dance and martial arts studios; exercise centers and gyms; public swimming pools; Go-kart tracks; arcades; and facilities with shared equipment.

Beauty supply, sewing, tobacco, jewelry, video gaming and vaping stores; florists, and gift shops must close their stores but may still operate online.

Businesses allowed to remain open as essential include:

Appliance, agricultural supply, and liquor stores; automotive maintenance, repair, and sales businesses; cleaning companies and construction trades; daycare providers; gas stations and convenience stores; financial services, including accounting, banks, check cashing, and payday loans; grocery stores; government agencies; hardware and construction stores; health care providers; laundromats and dry cleaners; pharmacies; rental cars; restaurants take out and delivery; and tele-communications.

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