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Texas to enforce quarantine orders to Louisiana drivers entering state

Houston Chronicle logo Houston Chronicle 3/30/2020 Nicole Hensley, Houston Chronicle

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Gov. Greg Abbott is tightening travel to Texas by ordering some motorists from Louisiana to self-quarantine for two weeks.

The new travel restrictions come as Louisiana's status as a novel coronavirus hotspot grew Sunday to more than 3,500 positive cases statewide. Abbott said drivers with commercial, medical, emergency response, military or critical infrastructure purposes for entering Texas would be exempted.

State troopers will enforce the order at checkpoints at major roadways along the border. Those asked to quarantine will be asked to provide an address for where they plan to hold up in Texas, either for two weeks or until their return to Louisiana, whichever is comes first.

Bing COVID-19 tracker: Latest numbers by country and state 

A provision in the order allows for DPS special agents to check on those under quarantine to make sure they're complying. Violators could be subject to either a $1,000 find or 180 days in jail, according to the four-page document. Another rule states that if a driver is showing symptoms associated with COVID-19, such as fever, coughing or shortness of breath, a trooper will follow them to their destination.

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The Texas order follows suit from Florida, whose governor on Friday required drivers from Louisiana to also quarantine upon entering their state. Motorists from Louisiana would have to cross both Alabama and Mississippi to make it to Florida.

The Louisiana border is 113 miles from Houston along I-10.

Mayor Sylvester Turner said he urged travelers returning to Texas to do the same more than three weeks ago, regardless of where they had been.

"If you leave Texas and come back to Texas, you should self-quarantine," Turner said at a news conference. "Nobody should be traveling unless you absolutely have to."

The governor's executive order is an expansion from what Abbott recently issued for air travelers from New Orleans, where more than 1,300 COVID-19 cases have been diagnosed as of Sunday afternoon.

Abbot also expanded air travel restrictions for passengers arriving from Washington, California and the following cities: Miami, Detroit, Atlanta and Chicago. They, too, will be told to quarantine.

nicole.hensley@chron.com a view of a city at night: The Pierce Elevated, otherwise know as Interstate 45 downtown, photographed from 2016 Main Street on June 23, 2016 in downtown Houston. © Karen Warren, Staff / Houston Chronicle

The Pierce Elevated, otherwise know as Interstate 45 downtown, photographed from 2016 Main Street on June 23, 2016 in downtown Houston.

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