AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – At a time when many state capitols, including the U.S. Capitol, are closed, Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen announced Monday, Dec. 21, that the Texas Capitol will reopen on January 4.

“In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, health and safety protocols have been put in place to allow for the Capitol’s reopening while maintaining a safe environment for all visitors, lawmakers, and staff,” Gov. Abbott’s Office said in a news release. “Preparations to safely conduct business in the Texas House and Senate are ongoing, and each chamber will vote upon their respective rules and protocols at the start of the legislative session.”

The Texas Legislature meets two years for a 140-day regular legislative session.

The 87th Legislative Session convenes at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021.

Texas had more than 9,800 hospitalized coronavirus patients as of Sunday, the most since a deadly summer outbreak.

The state is approaching the Christmas holiday with fewer than 800 intensive care unit beds and last Thursday smashed a single-day record for new cases with with more than 16,000, which state officials partly attributed to holiday gatherings.

Spread of the virus is also getting worse around the Capitol.

On Monday, public health officials in Austin said that new cases were up 86% since the beginning of December.

Officials recommended that Austin residents avoid travel and avoid gatherings, and also warned that a curfew could be installed if hospitalizations continue to rise.

“The best gift we can give this Christmas is masking and distancing and staying home if we can,” said Dr. Mark Escott, the city’s interim health authority.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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