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Wolff declines to reopen bars in Bexar County after Abbott issues order

Governor says bars could reopen in qualifying counties beginning Oct. 14

AUSTINBREAKING NEWS UPDATE:

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said Wednesday night that he has decided not to allow the reopening of bars in Bexar County.

Wolff’s decision comes hours after Gov. Greg Abbott issued an order allowing bars and similar establishments to open at 50% capacity in regions with low COVID-19 hospitalizations. The decision to reopen bars, though, come at the discretion of county judges.

At this point, I’m not opting in," Wolff said in Wednesday night’s briefing.

But Wolff said he will consult with local health officials about the possibility to reopen at a later date.

ORIGINAL STORY:

Governor Greg Abbott has issued an order allowing bars and similar establishments to open at 50% capacity in regions with low COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Abbott Announced in a Facebook video, that beginning Oct. 14, county judges can opt-in, provided a county’s COVID-19 hospitalizations are less than 15% of hospital capacity.

Issuing Executive Order to Open Bars in Qualifying Counties

Opening bars and similar establishments to 50% capacity in regions with low #COVID19 hospitalizations. ‪Beginning October 14th, County Judges can opt their county into these openings provided they assist in enforcing health protocols. Additionally, businesses like amusement parks, movie theaters, zoos, aquariums, and bowling alleys can expand to 75% capacity in counties with low #COVID19 hospitalizations ‪beginning October 14th. Texans have shown that we can contain the spread of #COVID19 by following health protocols and guidelines. Our state is prepared for these additional openings, but we all must remain vigilant and show personal responsibility to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

Posted by Office of the Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Additionally, Abbott said businesses like amusement parks, movie theaters, zoos, aquariums and bowling alleys can expand to 75% capacity in counties with low COVID-19 hospitalizations ‪beginning Oct. 12.

Yesterday, Abbott said he “will be announcing more openings soon” as the state shows signs of recovery from the novel coronavirus. The governor hinted to the announcement in a tweet posted on Wednesday.

“The hospitalizations, number of new positive cases, and positivity rate remain contained,” Abbott said. “Today was one of the lowest for fatalities in a long time.”

Texas bars were ordered to close mid-March and allowed to reopen at 25% capacity on May 22 and then 50% capacity on June 3. They were ordered to close again on June 26 and Abbott blamed the lack of social distancing at bars as one reason the virus was spreading so rapidly.

Abbott issued the following statement as he issued the order:

“Even as more businesses have opened and students return to school, Texans have shown we can contain the spread of COVID-19,” Abbott said. “Thanks to Texans following the best health practices, our state is prepared for additional openings, including bars. Working with industry leaders and our team of medical experts, the State of Texas has now developed strategies to safely open bars under certain health protocols. To ensure bars open safely, these openings will be done in conjunction with county officials. County Judges will be able to opt their county into opening bars so long as they assist in enforcing the health protocols. Opening bars does not mean that COVID-19 is no longer a threat, and most Texans are still susceptible to the virus. As bars and similar businesses begin to open, we all must remain vigilant and show personal responsibility to protect ourselves and our loved ones.”

In September, Abbott expanded capacity for most businesses, but fell short of opening bars.

Abbott said the state is now more “aware” of how quickly the virus can spread from person to person and protocols in place this time are “better than used previously."

“We are far better prepared to test and to treat Texans for COVID than any time before now,” Abbott said. “We are now averaging more than 65,000 COVID tests per day. Beginning next week, we will add an additional 100,000 rapid result tests per day.”

Read the order in full below:

Related: Gov. Greg Abbott hints that Texas bars could reopen soon


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