Texas Gov.: Restaurants, retailers can expand capacity but bars must stay closed
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, center, with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, left, and Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, right, speaks during an April news conference about the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Eric Gay /Associated Press

Texas Gov.: Restaurants, retailers can expand capacity but bars must stay closed

Restaurants, retail stores and gyms in most of Texas can expand their reopening to 75 percent capacity on Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday.

Bars will remain closed statewide because they are “nationally recognized as COVID-spreading locations,” Abbott said.

In regions with COVID-19 patients representing less than 15 percent of all hospitalizations for seven consecutive days, elective surgeries can resume immediately. Nursing homes can allow visitors on Sept. 24.

Along with restaurants and retailers, offices, libraries, and museums can also expand from 50 to 75 percent capacity in those regions Monday.

The reopenings apply to every region except Victoria, Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley, where the spread of the virus is too extensive to allow expanded reopenings.

“There are some Texans who want to fully open Texas 100 percent as though COVID is no longer a threat. The fact is COVID does still exist and most Texans remain susceptible,” Abbott said.

“If we fully reopen Texas without limits, without safe practices, it could lead to an unsustainable increase in COVID that would require the possibility of being forced to rachet back down.”

The governor spoke at a news conference in Austin alongside Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Speaker Dennis Bonnen.

On Tuesday, Patrick told ABC13 the governor could expand the reopening process this week, pointing to the current 50 percent capacity limit on restaurants.

“If the governor announces this week they’re going to 75 percent, I’m in total support,” Patrick said. “I think there’s no reason they can’t be.”

The seven-day average positivity rate in Texas, based on the date of specimen collection, was 6.98 percent on Tuesday. The state has reported a total of 706,034 COVID-19 cases and 14,803 deaths.

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