Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday issued an executive order limiting certain businesses and services, saying doing so will contain the spread of COVID-19.
The decision comes after the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 and the number of hospitalizations have increased. The positivity rate for those being tested in Texas for the coronavirus also increased above 10 percent. The governor previously announced that if positivity rates increased by 10 percent, the state would revert to more restrictive measures.
“As I said from the start, if the positivity rate rose above 10 percent, the state of Texas would take further action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Abbott said. “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.”
The measures in the order are targeted and measured, the governor’s office says, based on data indicating that the opening of certain types of businesses and services are correlated to a recent rise in positive cases in the state.
The order specifies that all bars and similar establishments that receive more than 51 percent of their gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages are required to close at noon Friday. These businesses may remain open for delivery and take-out, including delivering 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 percent of total listed indoor occupancy, beginning Monday.
Rafting and tubing businesses must close, according to the order, and all outdoor gatherings of 100 or more people must be approved by local governments, with certain exceptions, the order states.
“We want this to be as limited in duration as possible,” Abbott added. “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.”
Abbot came under fire from Republicans and business groups when his initial orders that closed businesses he deemed nonessential led to massive layoffs and unemployment claims statewide.
According to the state Department of Health Services COVID-19 tracker, the coronavirus infection rate among Texas’ entire population is 0.47 percent, and the death rate is .008 percent.
Total number of cases reported as of June 25 are 131,917 with 2,296 deaths and 74,496 recoveries.