AUSTIN, Texas - Governor Greg Abbott has announced the lifting of some restrictions and expanding the capacity of some businesses as he says the spread of COVID-19 has "steadily and significantly declined."
The governor says the move comes as the number of new cases and new hospitalizations in the state have been cut by more than two thirds since July and that the number of active cases has been cut in half. More importantly, the governor says that the number of people recovering from COVID-19 continues to increase.
The new order, which can begin as early as Monday, September 21, will apply to 19 regions in Texas but not in Laredo, Rio Grande Valley and Victoria where the governor says COVID-19 hospitalizations remain too high.
Gov. Abbott says businesses currently at 50% capacity can now increase to 75%. That includes all restaurants, retail stores, office buildings, manufacturing, museums, libraries, and gyms.
Hospitals in those 19 regions will also be able to return to ordinary elective surgical procedures.
All nursing facilities, assisted living centers, state-supported living centers, and other long-term care facilities will be allowed to reopen for visitation. They will have to comply with certain health protocols and there must be no COVID-19 outbreak. These facilities will all also be allowed to offer essential caregiver visits. These additional visitations can begin September 24.
The governor says however that because bars have been nationally recognized as coronavirus spreading locations, they will NOT be able to reopen at this time. He says that officials are focused on finding ways to get them open and are working with owners and associations to make that happen.
Officials say that without a vaccine it is a challenge to contain COVID-19 but that if Texans continue to follow guidelines like wearing masks, social distancing, and washing hands that the economy can continue to reopen.