To-go orders increase after Houston restaurants close dining areas

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- Get ready to see a lot of empty restaurants in Harris County as all bars, nightclubs and restaurants have been ordered to stop serving to dine-in customers Tuesday.

The restriction began at 8 a.m. Restaurants are only allowed to serve take-out, delivery or drive-thru meals.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced the big change Monday, stating the closure will last for at least 15 days, until further notice.

ABC13's Charly Edsitty stopped by House of Pies on Kirby, a typically 24/7 restaurant, where a "Sorry restaurant closed" sign was posted on the door once diners were no longer allowed to eat in.

Like many restaurants, House of Pies is adapting to the new restrictions. The Harris County locations on Kirby, Westheimer and Fuqua will be open from 8 a.m. to 10.p.m. everyday until the restriction is uplifted. The full menu of food and pies is still available for to-go out orders during this time period.

READ MORE: All Harris County bars and nightclubs ordered to shut down

Katz's Deli on Westheimer, another well-known 24/7 location, stayed open until the 8 a.m. deadline.

"So, I've actually been getting a lot of orders since a lot of people aren't really going out and staying enclosed," a delivery driver picking up an order at Katz's Deli said. "We're actually getting a lot of orders, all night and all day."

Hidalgo said all of the county's restaurants must only offer drive-thru and delivery services and must shut down any dining areas.

This change comes after President Trump asked Americans to not gather in groups larger than 10 people.

SEE ALSO: Government tells older people to stay home, all ages to avoid crowds

"We have to protect ourselves...It's unfortunate for the ones who are out of jobs, a lot of us are fortunate to just work from home. But with these establishments, they're not," one hopeful customer outside of the closed House of Pies said.

Harris County Fire Marshal Laurie Christensen said a hotline has been set up for people to report any sightings of overcrowding at bars, restaurants and nightclubs.

She also said citations carrying up to a $2,000 fine may be issued.

"We will be going out and working with the community. Our goal here is compliance," said Christensen. "We want to help educate the community. If we see a restaurant or a bar that's open, we're going to make sure they understand this order is in place."

Christensen said Harris County is working with surrounding counties on contingency plans.

The statement went on to say that more than 50% of food eaten by Texans come from restaurants. Remarks were also made concerning students who will be out of school for more than a week, fearing they wouldn't have a place to stop and get a meal.

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