Abbott Walks Back His Reopening Plans As COVID-19 Cases Continue to Surge

Gov. Abbott in happier times when he was able to announce Amarillo had turned things around with its coronavirus cases.
Gov. Abbott in happier times when he was able to announce Amarillo had turned things around with its coronavirus cases. Screenshot
As of noon today, all bars and other businesses in Texas that receive more than 51 percent of their receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages are ordered to close their in-house service — the result of a new executive order from Governor Greg Abbott.

Citing the surge in the number of coronavirus cases, Abbott said the bars and restaurants that fall into this category "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."

Included in the press release about his action was a reminder from Abbott that he has always said that if the rate of positive cases increased above 10 percent, there would be further preventative action.

He also walked back the percentage of customers restaurants can serve at one time from 75 percent.

All rafting and tubing businesses must close.

"Outdoor gatherings of 100 or more people must be approved by local governments, with certain exceptions."

Texas has been cited in a number of national news reports as a hot spot and an example of a state that re-opened its businesses too early and without enough restrictions.

Friday, Abbott responded to the increasing numbers saying:

“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. 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.”

The executive order:

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Margaret Downing is the editor-in-chief who oversees the Houston Press newsroom and its online publication. She frequently writes on a wide range of subjects.
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