Closed store

A sign in the door at Ross Dress for Less explains the locked doors. Brazos Mall in Lake Jackson first reduced its hours then decided to close entirely in the face of the coronavirus threat.

Non-essential businesses in Brazoria County, including salons, fitness centers, meeting facilities and commercial amusement and entertainment, must close by 6 p.m. Thursday, County Judge Matt Sebesta said.

The “Brazoria County Stay Safe at Home Order” will last through 11:59 p.m. April 3, he said.

The order still allows people to leave their homes for activities including grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions, running errands for elderly or sick neighbors, getting takeout or drive-thru food orders and outdoor exercising, Sebesta said.

“The order I signed defines essential businesses that may remain open during this event,” Sebesta said. “We didn’t just pick and choose businesses.”

Sebesta did not list the essential businesses during a Facebook livestream Wednesday afternoon, but said they followed Homeland Security Guidelines.

Essential industries include, but are not limited to, medical and healthcare, telecommunications, information technology systems, defense, food and agriculture, transportation and logistics, energy, water and wastewater, law enforcement, and public works, according to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

Essential workers have responsibilities including staffing operations centers, maintaining and repairing critical infrastructure, operating call centers, working construction and performing management functions.

Non-essential businesses during a public health emergency include “barber shops, nail salons and hair salons. Spas, massage parlors, tanning salons, estheticians and related personal care businesses. Commercial amusement and entertainment establishments such as theaters or bowling alleys. Gyms, fitness classes and yoga and personal training facilities. Tattoo and piercing parlors. Residential meetings spaces and event centers. Hotel meeting spaces and ballrooms and outdoor plazas and markets,” the county judge said.

Any essential businesses that continue to operate should do so “in a smart way” to curb the spread of COVID-19, Sebesta said.

The county gets reports of workers continuing to congregate in meetings and lunch rooms, which needs to stop, County Public Health Services Director Cathy Sbrusch said.

“We need you to find alternative methods,” she said.

These actions are being taken in an effort to not overwhelm the healthcare system, allow manufacturers to catch up with the needed personal protective equipment, allow doctors to find the best course of treatment and allow the medical community to research and hopefully produce vaccines, Sebesta said.

Hopefully it will lessen the overall impact to economy and community and shorten the duration of the event, he said.

Brazoria County has reported 33 confirmed cases of coronavirus through Wednesday afternoon. Neighboring Harris, Fort Bend and Galveston counties have instituted similar restrictions.

Maddy McCarty is assistant managing editor for The Facts. Contact her at 979-237-0151.

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