Texas Gov. Greg Abbott pumped the brakes on the state’s reopening after coronavirus cases spiked in numerous cities, The New York Times reports.
Nearly two months after reopening businesses, Abbott announced on Thursday that the state would stop any additional reopening phases.
Texas, which had one of the shortest stay-at-home orders in the nation, saw more than 6,200 new cases on Wednesday.
Abbott also shut down elective surgeries in several major counties.
“We are focused on strategies that slow the spread of this virus while also allowing Texans to continue earning a paycheck to support their families,” Abbott said on Thursday. “The last thing we want to do as a state is go backward and close down businesses.”
Then he closed bars:
A day later, Abbott announced that bars would have to shut down again and restaurants would have to reduce capacity to 50%.
“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 in a statement. "The actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and protect public health."
Abbott also allowed cities to limit outdoor gatherings to 100 people after previously setting the threshold at 500 people.
“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," he said.
Abbott calls for masks:
Abbott had long been against mask requirements, going as far as banning cities from requiring them to be worn in public. But as cases shot up, Abbott lifted the ban.
On Friday, he urged Texans to don face coverings when they go out.
"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," Abbott said. "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."