Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver on Monday followed the lead of the city of Dallas in ordering Waco residents to shelter in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning they must stay home except for activities defined as essential.
McLennan County commissioners Monday morning approved similar measures to go into effect countywide. Both orders are effective Monday at 11:59 p.m.
Residents may only leave home for three reasons: To meet essential needs such as food, health, and outdoor exercise; to work in essential services; and to participate in government activity. Among businesses closed will be hair and nail salons.
Essential businesses include those involving health care, child care and infrastructure, as well as grocery stores, liquor stores, farms, news media, laundry, gas stations, automobile repair, mailing and shipping, banks and financial services, professional services such as legal and accounting, hardware and construction supply businesses, and plumbing and electrician services. Restaurants may remain open but only with delivery and takeout.
All travel is banned except essential travel, and all public and social gatherings are prohibited with a few narrow exceptions in which social distancing may be practiced.
Violation of the order will result in a Class C misdemeanor citation. The order is effective for seven days, but the Waco City Council meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday and will consider extending it to April 7.
Deaver said he was disappointed that Gov. Greg Abbott stopped short of instituting such measures during his news conference Sunday, though he noted that Abbott encouraged cities to take such steps. The city of Dallas instituted a similar order Sunday.
“It is important to initiate these measure over a broad a region as possible because of the very nature of this pandemic," Deaver said. He said that with 17 cases reported as of Sunday afternoon, Waco has a higher per-capita rate than Dallas.
'I know many will say we are taking this action too early," he said. "I have been convinced by our health care officials that it's more important to act early than to wait. ... The sooner we take it the sooner we can get ahead of it."