Abbott takes executive action to curb coronavirus

Dine-in restaurant occupancy will be scaled back from 75 percent to 50 percent on June 29 per today’s executive order from Gov. Greg Abbott designed to reduce the surging number of coronavirus cases across Texas. Photo by Baylie Tucker/The Et Cetera
By HARRIET RAMOS

@HarrietRamosETC

Gov. Greg Abbott closed Texas bars at noon Friday except for delivery and takeout. Dine-in restaurant capacity will be scaled back to 50 percent starting June 29.

Commercial rafting and tubing services are closed, and local authorities must approve all outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people.

Today’s executive order was a result of record-breaking coronavirus cases across the state. More than 17,000 new confirmed cases were reported over the past three days, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. On Thursday there was a record high of 5,996 new cases and 4,739 hospitalizations.

At the end of May, Texas was averaging 1,500 new cases daily.

[READ MORE: More businesses set to open Friday, COVID-19 cases surge in Dallas County]

“At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars,” Abbott said in today’s news release. “The actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and protect public health.”

On Thursday Abbott announced he will pause the further reopening of businesses and temporarily halted elective surgeries in four of Texas’ largest counties, including Dallas, in order to reserve space for coronavirus patients.

As of Thursday, Dallas County had 1,137 coronavirus related hospitalizations, according to TDSHS data.

[READ MORE: Overcoming COVID-19: Student’s brother tests positive for coronavirus, recovers 3 weeks later]

Abbott has declined to require that Texans use face masks in public and has left the decision up to local authorities.

On June 19 Dallas County commissioners issued an order requiring business employees and customers to use face coverings inside. Businesses that do not comply could face a fine of up to $500.

“We can only slow the spread if everyone in Texas does their part,” Abbott said. “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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