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Texas imposes new partial lockdown after record coronavirus cases

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday, June 22, 2020. Abbott said on Tuesday that Texas would set a daily record for new coronavirus infections -- more than 5,000. (Ricardo B. Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman/TNS)
June 26, 2020

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order on Friday morning to impose another partial lockdown in the state after a significant rise in COVID-19 cases.

The executive order forces the immediate closure of bars that generate more than 51 percent of their sales from alcoholic beverages, inputs a 50 percent occupancy cap on restaurant dining rooms and other businesses, forces closure of rafting and tubing businesses, and requires government approval for outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people, according to a press release from Abbott’s office.

“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 on Friday.

On Thursday, Texas reported 6,426 new cases of coronavirus, which pushed the state’s positivity rate above that 10 percent threshold. Across the U.S., more than 40,000 new cases were reported on Thursday.

“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 enhance public health. 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.

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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. 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,” he added.

Abbott’s executive order also renews the disaster declaration for the state, urges residents to follow CDC’s guidelines on social distancing, hygiene and sanitization, and also urges residents to avoid unnecessary travel.

The order does not have an end date, instead remaining in effect until rescinded or modified.