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Texas Gov. Abbott orders bars to close amid COVID-19 spike

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The coronavirus outbreak in Texas has prompted another reversal from Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in an effort to contain the surge. 

Abbott has ordered all bars in the Lone Star state to close down by noon Friday, issuing his executive action less than two hours beforehand.

“At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including congregating in bars,” Abbott wrote in a statement accompanying the order.

On Thursday, Abbott put Texas’ reopening efforts on pause because of what he described as a “massive outbreak.”

Abbott has been adament about not resorting back to closing down businesses, noting that the bar closure will hopefully be “as limited in duration as possible.” 

San Antonio has seen a 500% increase in hospitalizations this month, and Houston’s ICU beds have come dangerously close to full capacity.

Abbott added in his statement that “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.

On June 3, Abbott issued an executive order banning local governments from fining people for not wearing masks, and has avoided a statewide order, despite supporting a judge’s mandate that businesses require employees to wear them. 

Abbott’s Friday executive order also reduces the capacity for restaurants to 50% capacity beginning Monday, requires rafting and tubing businesses to close, and bans outdoor gatherings of 100 people unless approved by local governments.

Bars can still serve takeout orders, including alcoholic drinks, according to the governor’s order.

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