Tarrant County has expanded its emergency orders during the coronavirus crisis starting at midnight tonight and extending until April 7.
“All persons currently residing within the incorporated and unincorporated territory of Tarrant County shall stay at their place of residence, except as allowed by this Order.”
Generally, the order expands restrictions to require anyone who is able to work from home, essential businesses are more tightly defined, and no gatherings of any size are allowed. Non-essential businesses may continue their minimum basic operations, but are not open to the public.
Under the order, businesses are not allowed to charge more for groceries, toilet paper, or medicines than they did on March 16.
Also, if any family member tests positive for COVID-19, the entire family must isolate themselves at home.
“We are not preventing anyone from traveling outside of this county,” Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley clarified.
Whitley, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, and Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams held a joint press conference this morning to announce the new measures. The officials did not call it a “shelter-in-place” order.
“The governor charged local officials to make the call to issue stay-at-home orders,” Mayor Price said.
“This is not meant to be alarmist or cause panic. It is a call to do our part and for you to do your part to flatten the curve,” Price added.
This order along with others being issued across the state today will affect 70 percent of the state’s population.
“It isn’t lost on us, these are incredibly hard times. By closing for a short amount of time, we will save lives and jobs,” Price said. Many are raising concerns about the effect these orders will have on the economy.
Mayor Williams said that the order is meant to be a smarter way to work. “We need you to be productive.”
Whitley said that the order does come with penalties. The first call will be a warning, but on the second, there will be a fine. The fine can be up to $1000. The order also includes jail time of up to 180 days.
Tarrant County issued an order on March 18 limiting public gatherings to no more than 50 people and closing movie theaters, bars, lounges, and dine-in restaurants.
The county then extended its order on March 21 to limit gatherings to no more than 10 people and closing more non-essential businesses and all worship services.
Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.