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Waco mayor declares local state of disaster, closes all bars, theaters, large social gatherings

Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver said in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus he was declaring a local state of disaster.
Credit: Jasmin Caldwell
Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver announces he's putting the city of Waco in a state of disaster.

WACO, Texas — Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver declared a local state of disaster in response to the coronavirus outbreak in a press conference Tuesday morning.

As part of the declaration, Deaver said restaurants with or without drive-thru services including micro-breweries, micro-distilleries and wineries may only provide take-out, delivery or drive-thru as allowed by law.

"In addition, businesses with alcoholic beverages or on-premises consumption, including bars, taverns or private clubs shall close," Deaver said. 

Local restaurant owners say the announcement hurts.

"It stinks, but there is nothing we can do, " Barnett's Public House Director of Operations Kris Bail said. "All we can do is make sure we take care of our employees and make sure they have a place to come back to whenever we open again."

Deaver said all indoor recreation areas including gyms, bowling alleys and theaters must also close.

Mary Duty and her husband own Poppa Rollo’s Pizza. Duty worries about how her employees will make ends meet.

"We want to keep people employed. This is going to have a huge impact on how many people are able to make that car payment and continue to function," Duty said. This is a domino effect in terms of society.

Deaver said city services like trash, water and sewer would continue as normal.

"This was a very difficult decision, but it must be done to keep our community and constituency safe," Deaver said. "Our priority is public safety."

Health officials said that as of the press conference 30 tests were sent out in McLennan County. Twelve came back negative. Eighteen were pending.

"We are trying to be mindful of the situation, taking the necessary steps we don't want to be the reason something happens," Bail said.

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