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Texas Gov. Orders Bars To Close, Reduces Restaurant Seating As COVID-19 Cases Surge

Texas bars such as this one in downtown Austin were allowed to reopen last month. Now the governor is ordering that they close to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Texas bars such as this one in downtown Austin were allowed to reopen last month. Now the governor is ordering that they close to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Alex Scott/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is ordering bars to close again and restaurants to reduce seating capacity amid a surge in new coronavirus cases.

The executive order, issued on Friday morning, restricted bars to delivery and takeout service only. Bars are required to close at noon Friday.

"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 said in a statement.

The governor has also cut seating at restaurants down to 50% of normal indoor capacity, effective Monday. Restaurants were previously allowed to operate at 75% capacity.

Outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people must now have the approval of local officials, and river rafting and tubing businesses were also shut down by the action.

The rollback on Texas' reopening comes a day after the state reported a record 5,996 new coronavirus cases.

Abbott noted that he promised to take preventive action if positive test results exceeded a rate of 10%. The state health department reported that rate as of Wednesday is approaching 12%.

On Thursday, the governor said he was hitting a pause on reopening plans.

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