Texas Gov. Abbott orders bars to close, limits businesses amid surge in coronavirus cases

Abbott also put a stop to elective surgeries in the state’s largest counties for the time being in order to protect hospital space in the Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio areas

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order on Friday requiring bars across the state to close at noon on Friday and to remain open only for delivery and takeout, as well as limiting other businesses and services as part of the state’s effort to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

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The directive ordered all bars and similar establishments that receive more than 51 percent of their sales from alcoholic beverages to close at noon Friday. It allows those businesses to remain open for delivery and takeout, including for alcoholic beverages.

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The order also requires restaurants to limit capacity for indoor dining to 50 percent beginning Monday.

Abbot also ordered rafting and tubing businesses to close, and required individuals to get approval from their local governments for outdoor gatherings of 100 people or more.

“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,” Abbott said in a statement on 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 protect public health.”

He added: “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.”

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Abbott’s order comes after he announced Thursday that the state would pause its reopening process amid a spike in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. Businesses that were previously allowed to reopen can remain open and continue operations that abide by set occupancy levels and the Department of State Health Services’ minimum health protocols.

Abbott also put a stop to elective surgeries in the state’s largest counties for the time being in order to protect hospital space in the Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio areas.

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“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," Abbott said. “I know that our collective action can lead to a reduction in the spread of COVID-19 because we have done it before, and we will do it again.”

Statewide, the number of COVID-19 patients has more than doubled in two weeks.

Texas is one of several states across the nation that have seen high case numbers in recent days. Several states set single-day case records this week, including Arizona, California, Mississippi, Nevada, Texas and Oklahoma. Some of those states also broke hospitalization records, as did North Carolina and South Carolina.

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Meanwhile, governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut issued a joint travel advisory this week, requiring all individuals traveling to the tri-state area from certain states experiencing a surge in positive COVID-19 cases to quarantine for 14 days, or be subject to fines.

The regional quarantine is applied to individuals coming from Texas, Arizona, Arkansas, Alabama, Washington, Utah, South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida.

Fox News' Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report. 

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