It’s Closing Time: Abbott Issues Orders Limiting Certain Businesses

If you were planning on bellying up to the bar at your favorite watering hole, you may need to become a day drinker – in the wake of surge in new COVID-19 cases statewide, Gov. Greg Abbott has issued orders that will close bars at noon today.

Abbott’s decision, his office said, comes as the number of positive cases continues to climb, as does the number of people sick enough to require hospitalization. Both of those metrics have increased above 10%, the threshold Abbott said previously would trigger further action.

The order 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 noon, but can 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.
  • Rafting and tubing businesses must close.
  • Outdoor gatherings of 100 or more people must be approved by local governments, with certain exceptions.

“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,” said Abbott. “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 6 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.”

Abbott’s announcement comes a day after Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins implored him to consider enacting some more statewide measures to help curb the spread of the virus.

“I’m asking that they look at things like bars; I mean folks do we really need to go to a bar right now given the situation that we’re in,” he said at a Thursday afternoon press conference.

Jenkins also asked Abbott to consider making some of the recommendations in the state’s plan for reopening mandatory, especially when it comes to workplace safety and wearing masks.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, deputy editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at bethany.erickson@peoplenewspapers.com.

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