Gov. Abbott issues order to close bars at noon after spike in COVID-19 cases; restaurants to reduce capacity

AUSTIN – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has issued an executive order to close bars and certain businesses as part of the state’s effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.

This decision comes as the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 and the number of hospitalizations have increased and the positivity rate in Texas increased above 10%, which Abbott previously stated would lead to further preventative 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 12 p.m. Friday. 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 capacity must not 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.

“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. 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 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.”

“If I close the bar tomorrow, I lose nothing. I already get nothing, so I lose nothing if I close my bar tomorrow, it’s the employees that lose,” said Jay Norman, owner of Biggle’s Sports Bar.

“I think they need to shut down everything if this is super serious. I don’t think they should be picking on bars only,” Norman said.

“We tried curbside last time they allowed it. It doesn’t pay the rent. It doesn’t sell enough food. It doesn’t cover the employees,” Norman continued.

View Gov. Abbott’s executive order here.

This is a developing story.

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Reporter, family-oriented, sports fanatic, proud Houstonian.