Texas retreats as new virus cases hit an all-time high in US

    The governor of Texas ordered the closing of all bars again and scaled back restaurant dining in the biggest retreat yet by any state, as the number of confirmed new coronavirus cases per day in the U.S. hit an all-time high of 40,000.

    Gov. Greg Abbott had pursued up to now one of the most aggressive reopening schedules of any state and had not only resisted calls to order the wearing of masks but had also refused until last week to let local governments take such measures.

    “It is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars,” he said. “The actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and protect public health.”  Abbott joined the small but growing number of governors either backtracking or putting any further reopenings on hold. Arizona, Florida and Arkansas are among the states that have been hit hard like Texas.

    Abbott also says rafting and tubing outfitters on Texas’ popular rivers must close and outdoor gatherings of 100 people or more must be approved by local governments.

    When Texas began lifting coronavirus restrictions, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott didn’t wear a mask. He wouldn’t let mayors enact extra precautions during one of America’s swiftest efforts to reopen. He pointed out that the White House backed his plan and gave assurances there were safe ways to go out again.

    Two months later, a sharp reversal is unfolding as the number of confirmed infections surges.

    Governor Greg Abbott today issued an executive order limiting certain businesses and services as part of the state’s efforts 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 the Governor 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 12:00 PM today. 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 at a capacity not to 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,” said Governor 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 enhance 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.”

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