Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered all bars in the state to be closed for the second time on Friday as Texas grapples with a record revival in coronavirus cases after a swift reopening last month.
In addition to bar closings, Abbott, a Republican, said restaurants will need to return to 50 percent of capacity, local governments will have more authority to regulate gatherings of more than 100 people, and rafting and tubing operators will Along the popular rivers they will close.
“Right now, it’s clear that the increase in cases is largely due to certain types of activities, including Texans who congregate in bars,” said Abbott. “Actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to quickly contain this virus and protect public health.”
Abbott’s order came as the state has seen a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases this month. On Thursday, the number of hospitalizations exceeded 4,700, doubling in less than two weeks. The number of positive tests hit a record the same day at nearly 6,000 cases, a record.
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The figures include a doubling of the infection rate to more than 10%, a brand that Abbott said in May would be a “red flag” in his reopening plan, which he said at the time was backed by the White House.
It began easing restrictions in May and accelerated openings amid protests by conservative Republicans and lawmakers across the country in an effort to get local governments to reopen their devastated economies.
“The doctors told us at the time, and they told anyone who wanted to listen, that it will be a disaster. And it has been, ”said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, a Democrat who is the county’s top official. “Once again, the governor is slow to act. Now he is forced to do the things that we have been demanding him to do for the last month and a half. “
Abbott cautioned that more protocols could be implemented if containment measures are unsuccessful.
“If we cannot stop the spread in the next few weeks, then we will have to reevaluate the extent to which business is open,” he said on Wednesday. “Because if it’s not contained in the next few weeks, it will be completely out of control and Texas will have to back off.”
Last weekend, Texas began applying social distancing guidelines in bars and suspended liquor licenses in many establishments, the Houston Chronicle reported. In a television interview on Thursday, Abbott said closing deals was the last resort.
“Our goal is to make sure we put public health and safety first,” he said in an interview with KEYE CBS in Austin.
On Sunday, Abbott will join Vice President Mike Pence in a Dallas megachurch for an “Celebrate Freedom” indoor service. Local officials fear the event will lead to an increase in infections despite measures of social distancing.
The Texas Republican Party is also moving forward with a July convention in Houston, which will not require covering your face.
On Friday, Florida announced that it would suspend alcohol consumption in bars across the state. The news came when the state reported nearly 9,000 new cases of COVID-19, also a record.
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“Based on recent increases in COVID-19 cases and noncompliance with previous orders, DBPR has taken steps to suspend local alcohol sales in bars,” said Halsey Beshears, secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. , it’s a statement. .
Associated Press contributed to this report.