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Texas' next phase of COVID-19 reopening swells crowds at restaurants & bars

Texas' next phase of COVID-19 reopening swells crowds at restaurants

Ciclo happy hour, patio
Outdoor spaces will have almost no restrictions at all. Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel

Texas is moving on to Phase III of its reopening following the coronavirus shutdown, including allowing restaurants to expand capacity to 75 percent.

An order from Gov. Greg Abbott says that all businesses in Texas will be able to operate at up to 50-percent capacity, with very limited exceptions, effective June 3. Most outdoor areas are not subject to capacity limits.

All businesses and customers should continue to follow minimum standard health protocols laid out by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

"The people of Texas continue to prove that we can safely and responsibly open our state for business while containing COVID-19 and keeping our state safe,” says Abbott in a statement. "As anticipated, the new positive cases that we are seeing are largely the result of isolated hot spots in nursing homes, jails, and meat packing plants. Thanks to the effectiveness of our Surge Response Teams, we have the ability to contain those hot spots while opening up Texas for business."

"As we begin Phase III, I ask all Texans and Texas businesses to continue following the standard health protocols and to heed the guidance of our state and federal officials who continue to closely monitor COVID-19. If we remain vigilant, we will continue to mitigate the spread of this virus, protect public health, and get more Texans back to work and their daily activities," he says.

Between May 26 and June 2, over 45 percent of new cases came from jails or prisons, meat packing plants and nursing homes. There are currently 1,487 Texans hospitalized due to COVID-19. There are 20,679 active cases in the state and 45,858 Texans are estimated to have recovered.

Effective June 12:

  • Restaurants may expand their occupancy levels to 75%.
  • Counties with 10 or less active COVID-19 cases may expand their occupancy limits to 75 percent. Counties that fit this category but have not previously filed an attestation with DSHS will need to do so.

Effective June 19:

  • Amusement parks and carnivals in counties with more than 1,000 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 may open at 50% capacity.

Additional Openings:

Special provisions have been made for outdoor gatherings, such as Fourth of July celebrations, but it is imperative that local officials and public health officials collaborate on safe standards. These provisions are included in the Governor's Executive Order and are also available on the Open Texas webpage.

All businesses should continue to follow the minimum standard health protocols from DSHS. For details and a full list of guidelines, openings, and relevant dates, visit http://open.texas.gov.

Reminders for those going out include

  • wear appropriate face coverings.
  • Avoid groups greater than ten when possible.
  • People over 65 should stay at home
  • Avoid nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities, or long-term care facilities.

Bars are allowed to expand to 50 percent occupancy and increase their table size to parties of 10. And, both restaurants and bars can safely reopen valet services and video games/ interactive amusements, which will drive additional, necessary business. 

“We know restaurants and bars still have a long and uncertain path towards recovery, but today’s announcement brings us one step closer to our shared goal of rebuilding our economy while keeping employees and customers safe,” said Dr. Emily Williams Knight, President and CEO of TRA. “The Texas Restaurants Association thanks Governor Abbott and his team for their hard work and leadership, and we stand ready to help all of Texas’ food and beverage businesses implement the new protocols.”