The City of Fort Worth will tighten restrictions on bars and restaurants starting at midnight Thursday as part of its emergency declaration related to the COVID-19 virus.
Effective at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday March 19, 2020, the new rules prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people in a single space, at the same time. The rules also close dine-in service at restaurants, micro-breweries, micro-distilleries, and wineries, but allow take-out, drive-in, drive-through, or delivery services to continue.
The new regulations close all bars, lounges, taverns, private clubs, theaters, gyms, and other amusement businesses.
During her daily Facebook Live session at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Mayor Betsy Price said the new changes were coming as the city responds to the COVID-19 virus that .
“For that reason, I’m announcing that within the next 24 hours you will see the City of Fort Worth enact tighter restrictions on public safety and public buildings,” she said. “Specifically, we will be moving all bars and restaurants to take out and delivery only. We are closely evaluating other guidelines that the CDC has recommended.”
“We do need to make improvements in our social distancing plan,” she said.
Other parts of the expanded declaration limit total occupancy to 125 people or 50% of the capacity on the certificate of occupancy, whichever is less. This applies to event centers; hotel meeting spaces and ballrooms; retail sales and services; convenience stores; plazas; places of worship; common areas in malls; and each individual business in malls.
The occupancy limit does not apply to grocery stores; government facilities; residential buildings; medical facilities; daycares; homeless or emergency shelters; nonprofit service providers; airports or other critical infrastructure such as transit facilities; manufacturing and industrial locations; and office buildings.
During her Facebook Live program, Price said the city will likely be directing code and fire inspection staff to focus on enforcing social distancing, she said.
“We know these are incredibly unsettling times,” she said.
On Monday, Fort Worth announced it was enacting a mandatory reduction in the occupancy limits for local businesses.
The rules announced Monday called for local businesses to reduce allowed occupancy by 50%, or no more than 125 individuals, whichever is less. These occupancy limits apply to the following locations: restaurants, bars, event centers, gyms, hotel restaurants, retail stores, theatres, convenience stores, public buildings, plazas, churches and shopping malls.
Other Texas cities, such as Dallas, Austin and Houston have implemented are similar to the ones Fort Worth will put into effect Thursday.
Additionally, temperature screenings at public-facing city facilities will began Wednesday March 18. Those entering city facilities during normal business hours will have their temperature checked using a forehead thermometer, and people with a temperature of 100 degrees or more will be asked to leave, and to contact their healthcare provider. This includes city employees.
Price is doing a daily Facebook Live session at 6 p.m. to report on the crisis.
The City of Arlington’s council is meeting Wednesday to consider tightening its regulations as well.