(TheLibertyRevolution.com)- As new coronavirus cases continue to explode in Texas, the state became the first to roll back re-openings to stop the spread.
On Friday morning, Governor Greg Abbott announced he was shutting bars down again and reducing indoor restaurant capacity to 50%. Outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people are also barred under the new order — unless approved in advance by local officials — and river-rafting trips are closed now, too.
In a news release announcing the moves, Abbott said:
“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 protect public health.”
Previous to Friday morning’s announcement, bars were allowed to operate with 50% capacity, and restaurants could have 75% capacity. The new rules go into place at noon on Friday.
The restrictions on outdoor gatherings are the second move Abbott has made this week about that category of activity. Before now, outdoor activities were permitted up to 500 people. On Tuesday, Abbott said local governments could decide whether to permit or restrict outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people. Now, all outdoor gatherings have that limit.
Earlier this week, Abbott said shutting down Texas again would be a last resort, but with the situation worsening by the day, he seemed to have no choice but to act.
Texas was one of the first states to re-open after being on a lockdown order for almost all of April. That order expired at the end of that month, though, and the state quickly moved to get things back to normal.
The state is current embroiled in a massive outbreak, along with other populous states in the South and West. On Thursday, Texas set records once again with 5,996 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 4.739 new hospitalizations. It was the 14th straight day of the hospitalization numbers breaking a previous record.
What’s been most alarming for Abbott, though, is the positivity rate in the state. This statistic measures the ratio of coronavirus test that come back positive, and it is presented as an average over seven days. Abbott has long said that the concerning threshold would be a positivity rate of 10%. Currently, that rate is at 11.76%, exactly where it was when Texas was in lockdown in mid-April.
This was a main reason why Abbott put the new restrictions in place Friday morning, saying:
“As I said from the start, if the positivity rate rose above 10%, the State of Texas would take further action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. We want this to be as limited in duration as possible. However, we can only slow the spread if everyone in Texas does their part.
“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.”