TEXAS -- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently said closing businesses down again would be a last resort as cases of the novel coronavirus and resultant hospitalizations surge. On Friday, he started that process.
By executive order, beginning at noon Friday, all bars and similar establishments that make 51 percent of their gross revenue from alcohol sales must close.
Those bars can offer delivery and takeout, however, including alcohol sales.
Starting on Monday, June 29, restaurants must reduce occupancy to 50 percent. It’s currently at 75 percent.
Rafting and tubing businesses must close.
Finally, gatherings of 100 people or more must be approved by local governments, with certain exceptions.
In a press release, Abbott stated the move was spurred by the fact that the COVID-19 positivity rate has surpassed 10 percent as well as a twofold increase in hospitalizations due to the virus.
“As I said from the start, if the positivity rate rose above 10%, the State of Texas would take further action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Gov. Abbott wrote. “At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars. The actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and protect public health.”
Abbott concluded by stating he hopes the closures and occupancy limits are short-lived and urged Texans to practice social distancing and hygiene measures.
Abbott also announced that the federal government has granted his request to extend operations of community based testing sites across Texas. The federal government will maintain support for the program while surging resources to Dallas and Houston in order to support testing needs within the community.
"The State of Texas remains unwavering in our efforts to secure access to testing in communities across the state," said Governor Abbott. "These federally-supported testing sites are a vital component of this commitment. I thank our federal partners for extending these operations in Texas, and for their flexibility in allocating their resources to the communities of Dallas and Houston that are experiencing a high number of COVID-19 cases right now. By continuing to increase testing and remaining vigilant against outbreaks of COVID-19, we will mitigate the spread of this virus and keep our communities safe."