We're going backwards.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday morning an executive order stating that all bars in Texas must close at noon, and that by Monday, all restaurants in the state must reduce their capacities to 50 percent of what they would normally hold.
Bars, specifically establishments where alcohol sales are more than 50 percent of revenue, may continue takeout service.
This move comes in response to constant record increases in COVID-19 cases statewide. On Thursday, 5,996 new cases of the coronavirus were reported in Texas, a one-day record that broke the previous day's mark of 5,551, according to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services. There were also a record number of hospitalizations—4,739—on Thursday.
"As I said from the start, if the positivity rate rose above 10 percent, the State of Texas would take further action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19," said Governor Abbott in a press release. "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."
Abbott has aggressively re-opened the state in phases over the past several weeks. On June 3 he passed an executive order permitting restaurants to open their dining rooms to 75 percent standard capacity on June 12. At the same time, he allowed bars to increase capacity to 50 percent.
As COVID case rates have risen, restaurants and bars have had to close temporarily or pause dine-in services because of positive staff cases. Among the bars, restaurants and establishments that have recently announced cases are Kata Robata, Savoir, Brennan's of Houston, Better Luck Tomorrow, Eight Row Flint, Monkey's Tail, and Bravery Chef Hall. Some spots, like the Cottonmouth Club, a bar in Downtown Houston, closed preemptively because employees were voicing concerns about other bars being impacted by COVID-19.