Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday once again limited several types of businesses and activities in an attempt to slow the rapid growth of new COVID-19 cases statewide.
Under an executive order, all bars must close at noon today, and restaurants must roll back to 50% indoor capacity beginning Monday. Rafting and tubing businesses also must close, and outdoor gatherings of 100 or more people must be approved by local governments, with exceptions.
The executive order comes amid a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the state. In particular, the positivity rate – or the number of positive tests compared to the number of total tests – has climbed above 10% this week.
“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,” Governor Abbott said in a statement. “The targeted, measured directives in the executive order are based on links between certain types of businesses and services and the recent rise in positive cases throughout the state.”
Texas Medical Association President Diana Fite, MD, said the association sees the value in the executive order.
“We absolutely must stop the spread of COVID-19 in Texas. Governor Abbott’s actions today are intended to do just that,” Dr. Fite said. “But Texans also need to take responsibility to protect ourselves and each other from this virus without government mandates.
“I know we are all smart enough to do this on our own: wash our hands frequently, stay home when possible, and practice social distancing and wear masks when we are out.”
Under a phased plan to reopen businesses, which began May 1, bars and restaurants have been allowed to operate with reduced capacities. Other businesses and activities, including hair salons, amusement parks, outdoor pools, and museums, also have been allowed to reopen with restrictions.
Governor Abbott on Thursday suspended any further phases to the reopening plan. He also suspended most non-emergent elective surgeries at hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris, and Travis counties Thursday.
The governor said he wanted Friday’s order “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,” Governor Abbott continued. “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.”
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