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Texas governor shuts down bars, rolls back restaurant capacity to 50%

Gov. Greg Abbott is trying to stem the surge of coronavirus cases in his state.
Photograph: Shutterstock

As coronavirus cases surge in his state, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott early Friday announced a re-closure order for all of the state’s bars and ordered all restaurants to roll back to 50% capacity to control the spread of the virus.

All bars that receive more than 51% of their gross receipts from the sale of alcohol must close by noon today, though they can remain open for delivery and take-out of alcoholic beverages, according to the executive order.

Starting Monday, restaurants must return to 50% capacity in their dining rooms. Restaurants in Texas are currently allowed to operate at 75% capacity, though many are running at 47% to 55% already because of social distancing requirements, according to the Texas Restaurant Association.

Those who do not comply with the order are subject to fines of up to $1,000, according to the executive order.

Texas is home to the second-highest number of restaurants of any state.

“We understand this order will not impact outdoor patios of restaurants, where we know many members are seeing great success,” the Texas Restaurant Association said in a statement. “We are also hearing very strong indicators that we will be able to sell mixed beverages to-go soon. While we know these measures will not replace a full dining room, they will certainly help many restaurants through this difficult time.”

Bars have been a major area of concern in the state, the governor said in a written statement reported by the Dallas Morning News.

“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.

Texas is one of at least 32 states in which coronavirus cases continue to rise. A number of governors are halting phased reopening plans, in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.

On Thursday, Abbott said he would pause the state’s phased reopening while cases continue to rise.

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