FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - Officials in Tarrant County have announced "stay at home" orders to combat the continuing spread of the coronavirus.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams and Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley held a news conference Tuesday morning to announce these new measures as a way to keep residents inside their homes.
The new orders are an extension of the disaster declaration currently in effect for the county, which already limits gatherings and shuts down places like gyms, clubs, and the dine-in areas of restaurants.
The orders in Tarrant County will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday and are expected to last until April 7.
A "stay at home" order means that residents are being told to stay inside their homes unless for "essential activities," such as grocery shopping or jobs. Exceptions also include outdoor exercise or going out for health reasons.
The City of Fort Worth released a document that outlines what "essential" businesses would stay open and which should be closed. These orders ramp up the restrictions put into place over the weekend.
"The major differences will be any business who can work virtually, should. Everyone else, when you're home, stay home. Don't be out on play dates at the park. Don't be out in big gatherings. Don't go see your friends for dinner parties at home. Stay home. We mean it when we say you're safer at home," Price said.
Officials also said these new measures are a way of keeping the hospitals from being overwhelmed with patients, as cases of COVID-19 continue to increase. Doctors estimate about 12,000 patients in Tarrant County will need care, with only 5,300 hospital beds available.
Price also said police won't be arresting anyone who violates the new orders, but more than one warning could result in a fine.
On Sunday, Dallas County became the first county in North Texas to issue this kind of order as cases have rapidly increased. Hunt and Rockwall counties followed with their own "stay at home" orders.
Collin County made its "stay at home" announcement about an hour after Tarrant County. Denton County issued the same orders later in the afternoon.
"Y'all stay safe, y'all stay healthy and y'all stay home," Price said.
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