Abbott Restricting Texas Restaurants, Bars in New Effort to Contain COVID-19 Spike

Texas has reported more than 32,000 confirmed new cases in the last week, an average of 4,600 per day, with a record high positive tests of 5,996 on Thursday

greg abbott
NBC 5 News

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Friday issued a new executive order limiting certain businesses and services as part of the state's effort to contain the recent spike in coronavirus infections.

The order (included at the bottom of this page) scales back dining and forces bars to close at noon. Rafting and tubing outfitters on Texas’ popular rivers must close and that outdoor gatherings of 100 people or more must be approved by local governments.

Abbott did not say when the new restrictions may be lifted.

The order includes the following:

  • All bars and similar establishments that receive more than 51% of their gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages are required to close at 12 p.m. Friday, June 26. These businesses may remain open for delivery and take-out, including for alcoholic beverages, as authorized by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. 
  • Restaurants may remain open for dine-in service, but at a capacity not to exceed 50% of total listed indoor occupancy, beginning Monday, June 29, 2020.
  • Rafting and tubing businesses must close.
  • Outdoor gatherings of 100 or more people must be approved by local governments, with certain exceptions.

“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 prepared statement.

The state's positivity rate has been climbing steadily all month, moving above the 10% mark on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the positivity rate hit 11.76%, a high not seen since mid-April. The positivity rate for Thursday will be released by the Texas Department of State Health Services on Friday afternoon.

“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 said in a statement.

"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.”

Texas has reported more than 32,000 confirmed new cases in the last week with a record high positive number of tests of 5,996 on Thursday. The day’s tally of 4,739 hospitalizations was also a record.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the COVID-19 virus without feeling sick.

Read the full executive order in the document viewer below or click here to open it in a new window.

If you have trouble reading this document, click here to open it in a new window.
Copyright NBC 5 News and The Associated Press
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