Home News COVID-19 Business Updates Bars Closed, Restaurant Capacity Scaled Back

Bars Closed, Restaurant Capacity Scaled Back

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Governor Issues New Executive Order

By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

EAST TEXAS – The great re-opening experiment in Texas seems to have gone off the rails. Gov. Greg Abbott began to re-open the Texas economy on May 1 after the COVID-19 pandemic caused the state to shutter many businesses and schools in late March and early April.

While the state of Texas seemed to be returning to a sense of normalcy through Stage I and Stage II of the re-opening, Stage III brought with it a surge in the number of positive COVID-19 cases, as well as deaths related to the virus.

Since June 16, the number of daily positive cases reported has exceeded the previous daily high of 2,504 – recorded on June 10 – every day. In addition, the number of newly reported cases has increased from 5,489 on Tuesday, June 23 to 5,551 on Wednesday, June 24 to 5,996 on Thursday, June 25.

To put it another way, the sum of last three days’ worth of cases exceeds the cumulative total since COVID-19 cases began to be tracked up until April 16, when the state was under “stay-at-home” orders.  

As a result, on Friday morning, June 26, the governor issued the latest in a long string of executive orders concerning the COVID-19 pandemic.

Executive Order GA-28 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 12:00 PM today. 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.

Following the issuance of the executive order, Abbott spoke about the matter.

“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,” he said.

“At this time,” Abbott continued, “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 enhance 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.”

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.   

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