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Texas Gov. shuts down bars, tubing outfitters, scales back restaurant dining

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Friday morning shutting down bars, scaling back restaurant dining, and closing rafting and tubing outfitters on popular rivers, as COVID-19 cases soar in the state. (MGN)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Friday morning shutting down bars, scaling back restaurant dining, and closing rafting and tubing outfitters on popular rivers, as COVID-19 cases soar in the state. (MGN)(MGN)
Published: Jun. 26, 2020 at 9:19 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 26, 2020 at 2:20 PM CDT
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AUSTIN, Texas (KWTX)-- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Friday morning shutting down bars, scaling back restaurant dining, and closing rafting and tubing outfitters on popular rivers as COVID-19 cases soar in the state.

The unexpected announcement forced owners of Waco’s Backyard Bar Stage and Grill to cancel a performance Friday night by country singer-songwriter Aaron Watson and Saturday night’s performance by Casey Donahew.

Texas reported nearly 6,000 new cases of the virus Thursday and a total of 17,000 new cases in the past three days.

Texas has one of the highest positivity rates in the country, along with Arizona, and concerns are again rising about hospital capacity in the state’s largest cities.

On Thursday Abbott issued an order halting elective surgery in Harris, Bexar, Dallas and Travis counties and announced a pause in the phased process of reopening the state.

“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,” 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.”

Bars must close by noon Friday, but may continue to offer drive-thru, pickup and delivery of food and drinks to the extent allowed by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

Restaurants may continue to operate at 75% capacity until 12:10 a.m. Monday when occupancy must be reduced to 50%.

The order bars the “use of commercial rafting or tubing services, including the rental of rafts or tubes” and transportation of rafters and tubers.

Effective at noon Friday, gatherings of more than 100 people are generally prohibited, with certain exceptions, unless a mayor of county judge grants approval.

Businesses must continue to operate at 50% occupancy.

But the 50% occupancy limit does not apply to hair, cosmetology and nail salons; barbershops; massage facilities; tanning salons, and tattoo and piercing studios I which work stations are

The order sets no occupancy limits for religious services, childcare services, youth camps and recreational sports programs for youths and adults.

Amusement parks must limit occupancy to 50% of capacity.

The order sets no limits on outdoor areas, events or establishments, but does set 50% occupancy limits on professional or collegiate or similar sporting events; swimming pools and water parks; museums and libraries; zoos, aquariums and similar facilities; and rodeos and equestrian events.

The order also sets no occupancy limits on religious services, local government operations, childcare services, youth camps and recreational sports programs for youths and adults.

“The actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and enhance public health,” Abbott said.

“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.”

The Texas Medical Association Friday called on Texans to step up.

“We absolutely must stop the spread of COVID-19 in Texas. Governor Abbott’s actions today are intended to do just that,” Texas Medical Association President Dr. Diana L. 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.” “We absolutely must stop the spread of COVID-19 in Texas. Governor Abbott’s actions today are intended to do just that,” Texas Medical Association President Dr. Diana L. 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.”

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