SAN ANTONIO – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday took a tougher stance on curbing the coronavirus pandemic by further scaling back reopenings.
A new executive order issued on Friday states that bars and similar establishments whose receipts consist of 51% or more of alcohol sales must close by noon, but they can remain open for delivery and takeout. He did not say when the establishments might reopen.
Restaurant dining spaces must operate at a 50% capacity starting on Monday, June 29 — a decrease from 75%, Abbott has ordered.
Also under the new orders, rafting and tubing outfitters must close, just ahead of Fourth of July weekend.
Outdoor gatherings of 100 or more must also be approved by local governments. Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff and San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg had already issued a ban on gatherings of 100 people or more.
Friday’s order was issued as Texas — specifically major cities — continues to see a spike in COVID-19 cases. On Thursday, Abbott temporarily paused additional plans to reopen Texas and paused elective surgeries in Bexar County to preserve hospital space.
Abbott previously stated the deciding factor in scaling back operations depended on hospitalizations and positivity rate, which has now surpassed 10%.
Texas has reported more than 17,000 new confirmed cases in the last three days. On Thursday alone, state officials recorded a record high of positive tests of 5,996 and a record high of 4,739 hospitalizations.
“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,” Abbott said in a news release. “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.”
“We want this to be as limited in duration as possible. However, we can only slow the spread if everyone in Texas does their part. Every Texan has a responsibility to themselves and their loved ones to wear a mask, wash their hands, stay six feet apart from others in public, and stay home if they can. I know that our collective action can lead to a reduction in the spread of COVID-19 because we have done it before, and we will do it again.”
San Antonio on Thursday recorded the largest daily increase in cases. The 638 new COVID-19 cases in Bexar County brings the area’s tally to 8,452 cases.
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