NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas, Tarrant, Collin, Denton and 15 neighboring counties (aka Trauma Service Area E) have met criteria to trigger a rollback to 50% occupancy limits on restaurants, retail stores, office buildings, manufacturing facilities, gyms and exercise facilities and classes, museums and libraries
Trauma Service Area E will be the 7th out of Texas’ 22 TSAs to be classified as having “high hospitalization.”
An estimated eight million people live in that area.
Governor Greg Abbott has previously said in an Executive Order that if COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to exceed 15% for seven days in a row, then business openings will have to be scaled back — mostly from 75% occupancy to 50% occupancy.
State data showed the number of hospitalizations it first rose above 15% of total hospital capacity in the region Friday, Nov. 27, and has continued to stay above that number since.
The next largest to rollback so far (TSA – I, El Paso area) has about 10% as many residents.
Bars throughout North Central Texas will be ordered to close.
That’s unless they’ve reclassified as restaurants.
TABC estimates 33% of bars operating prior to the pandemic are now considered “restaurants.”
These businesses will have to reduce their occupancy limit to 50%.
Hospitals throughout North Central Texas will be ordered Friday to stop elective surgeries.
They can expect to receive a letter like the one below on Friday, Dec. 4, formally notifying them of this requirement.
There now has to be seven straight days where COVID-19 hospitalizations are under 15% for things to return as they were.
Kelsey Erickson Streufert, the Texas Restaurant Association VP of Government Relations and Advocacy, worries the rollbacks will damage consumer confidence at a time when businesses need it most.
“The winter is just such a pivotal point,” she said. “I think for too long we’ve treated restaurants like both the silver bullet and the scapegoat of COVID. You know, if only we can control restaurant occupancy, we can get COVID under control.”
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in order for the rollbacks to make a difference, everyone will need to exercise personal responsibility.
“If we all get a little bit better, then we can flatten this curve. If we don’t, we’re just going to have surge on top of surge as we deal with holiday after holiday,” Judge Jenkins said.
MORE FROM CBSDFW