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City orders suspension of dine-in service at restaurants, temporary closures of other 'non-essential' businesses

Mayor Ron Nirenberg emphasized that there is and will continue to be a steady supply of food in grocery stores, which will remain open in Alamo City.

SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio had been the last major Texas city not to order a temporary closure of bars and restaurants as the fight to contain the coronavirus continues, but that will change Wednesday night.

Following in the footsteps of Austin, Houston and Dallas, city officials ordered that, effective midnight Wednesday night, dine-in services at restaurants will be suspended; additionally, others "non-essential" businesses such as bars, lounges, nightclubs, taverns, indoor commercial amusements businesses, theaters, gyms, bingo parlors, bowling alleys must close.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg called the order "the most difficult phase" in ongoing efforts to contain COVID-19, which has infected 83 people across Texas and killed three. 

He also emphasized that there is and will continue to be a steady supply of food in grocery stores, which will remain open in the Alamo City, as will other "essential" businesses. Hotels, schools, funerals, places of worship, museums and residential buildings are examples of other places exempt from the order. 

"Food, water and other essential goods are plentiful," Nirenberg said. "We do not have shortages. The shelves have been empty at times due to unnecessary hoarding. We must act accordingly."

In a statement sent Wednesday evening, the Texas Restaurant Association said its efforts are shifting towards helping local eateries weather the storm while their services are limited. 

"Although we are disappointed in this decision, we will continue to work closely with Mayor Nirenberg and the city council to ensure restaurants are back to providing dine-in service as soon as possible, while supporting restaurants as they adapt to a takeout/delivery-only modified form of operation," the statement reads. 

Nirenberg additionally recommended that city residents stay indoors from 10 p.m. at night until the next morning to help alleviate stress on first responders, and to further strengthen social distancing efforts in the metro.

"We need collaboration now to make the best of this situation," he said. 

Meanwhile, Bexar County leaders said that other restaurants and bars not within San Antonio premises – including the Alamo Heights, Castle Hills and Live Oak communities – are ordered to follow the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, including limiting occupancy by half, keeping tables six feet apart from each other, not allowing parties of more than five people at a single table and adopting screening measures for employees. 

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