Restaurants, retail shops allowed to increase capacity; bars must remain closed

HOUSTON – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday he is allowing some businesses to increase their capacity as the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have been on a steady decline, but some businesses must remain closed.

Abbott said that state leaders will use the hospitalization rates related to coronavirus in the state’s 22 hospital regions to guide their decision making. He said all but three of those regions – Laredo, Victoria and the Rio Grande Valley – have brought their coronavirus-related hospitalizations below 15% for at least seven days.

“Texans are taking COVID seriously,” Abbott said.

Here’s a closer look at the governor’s announcement regarding businesses in the remaining 19 regions, which includes Houston.

What’s open

Abbott said restaurants, retail shops, gyms, museums, office buildings and factories are allowed to increase to 75% capacity starting Monday.

Hospitals can resume elective procedures.

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities can begin allowing visitations again, but they must continue to observe certain health protocols. Also, there must not be an outbreak of COVID-19 at the facility.

What’s closed

Bars must remain closed for now.

Abbott said that is because bars are nationally recognized as places where COVID-19 spreads

“We are focused on finding ways to get them open,” Abbott said, noting that some bar owner associations have made recommendations to health officials about how they can safely reopen.

‘Still a threat’

Abbott reminded Texans that COVID-19 is still in the state and it is “still a threat.” He admitted that without a vaccine, containing the spread of coronavirus is a challenge.

Abbott said people should remain vigilant and continue to follow CDC guidelines for reducing the spread of the disease, including wearing a mask, sanitizing your hands, maintaining your distance from others and staying home when you’re sick.

Watch the full press conference below:

About the Authors: