Well we've been hoping that it wouldn't come to this, but it's better to be SAFE than sorry later on. Following the lead of surrounding communities and counties, Bell County officials declared a local disaster and public health emergency in an effort to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, five cases of which have now been confirmed in the county.

According to News 10, the order limits the size of gatherings to no more than 50 people and mandates the cancellation of all such gatherings until further notice. Also, restaurants are limited to drive-through and takeout service.

The order also closes bars and indoor recreation facilities such as gyms, bowling alleys and pool halls, but the order doesn't apply to to retail stores, malls, office spaces, grocery stores, or schools.

Bell County officials added that violation of this order is a class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of as much as $1,000. The order goes into effect beginning at MIDNIGHT tonight (March 18th) and is effective for seven days, but commissioners can and likely will extend it.

Its important to emphasize that LOCAL businesses will be the ones getting hurt the MOST by this so if you can over the next 7 days, spend your money with LOCAL SMALL BUSINESSES so they can survive and come out on the other side of this with us.

The big boys will be okay. It's our LOCAL businesses that won't be, so if you are ordering food, order from a LOCAL restaurant, need supplies, SHOP LOCAL, but whatever you do, let's stick together and help each other out.

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