AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Most businesses in Texas will soon be able to open at a 75% capacity, but bars will remain closed, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday.
The governor held a news conference to discuss the state’s continued response to COVID-19, along with reopening plans.
“Since late July the spread of COVID-19 has steadily and significantly declined. The number of new cases and new hospitalizations have been cut by more then two-thirds,” Abbott said. “Just yesterday, we had the lowest number of hospitalizations in the past three months. And importantly, the number of people recovering from covid continues to skyrocket”
In coming up with the plan, Abbott said health officials released a metric that could help determine which areas of Texas would be able to take part in further reopening plans. According to the metric, a hospital region — 22 in Texas — can allow for additional reopenings if COVID-19 hospitalizations are less than 15% of all hospitalizations in that area for seven consecutive days.
“Doctors and hospitals suggest it can be a warning if more than 15% of hospitalizations are of people with covid. Hospitalizations above that level signal a serious spread and begins to compromise a hospital’s ability to respond to covid,” Abbott said.
Abbott said 19 of those 22 regions, which includes North Texas, passed that metric and can take part in the updated reopening plan. The Rio Grande Valley, Laredo and Victoria areas of the state remain in the “danger zone.”
In the updated plan, businesses such as retail stores, restaurants, museums, libraries and gyms are now able to open at 75% capacity, up from 50%. This can begin on Monday, Sept. 21.
Effective immediately, hospitals can return to elective surgical procedures.
Facilities such as nursing homes and assisted-living can also return to normal visitation as long as there is no COVID-19 outbreak and health protocols are followed. This can begin next Thursday, Sept. 24.
Bars, however, will remain closed as they are still considered hotspots for the spread of COVID-19, according to Abbott.
“Because bars are nationally recognized as covid spreading locations, they are still not able to open at this time,” Abbott said. “However it is important for them to know that we are focused on finding ways to get them open. We need to see covid numbers continue to be contained and we need to work with the bars on effective strategies that will ensure when they do open the possibility of spread of covid is contained.”