Sure to inherit both applause and condemnation for this action, Greg Abbott, our Republican pro-business governor, has just announced that he's hitting the pause button on his additional re-opening plans for businesses in Texas amid a spike in COVID-19 cases in the state.
The action comes on a busy day for the governor who has already issued a proclamation suspending elective surgeries in Harris, Dallas, Bexar and Austin counties
According to a press release:
The State of Texas will pause any further phases to open Texas as the state responds to the recent increase in positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Businesses that are permitted to open under the previous phases can continue to operate at the designated occupancy levels and under the minimum standard health protocols provided by the Texas Department of State Health Services.
The governor had previously allowed restaurants to reopen in phases — now at 75 percent of capacity — and bars now at 50 percent. Some restaurants and bars, however, exceeded these parameters with the result that complaints have come in from the public and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has suspended liquor licenses for 30 days for some offenders.
Abbott was quoted in the statement as saying, "“As we experience an increase in both positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, we are focused on strategies that slow the spread of this virus while also allowing Texans to continue earning a paycheck to support their families.
"The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses. This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business. I ask all Texans to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask, washing their hands regularly, and socially distancing from others. The more that we all follow these guidelines, the safer our state will be and the more we can open up Texas for business.”
Abbott's action comes with slightly more than a week left before the July 4 holiday which is sure to draw celebrating crowds despite the pleas of local officials. Following the Memorial Day holiday there was a surge in the number of positive cases of COVID-19.
Despite the rise in cases, President Trump's administration has said it is withdrawing federal support funding for some COVID-19 testing sites including seven in Texas, four of which are in Harris County.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.