Starting Oct. 14, bars in Texas will be allowed to re-open at 50-percent capacity and all other businesses will be allowed to increase occupancy levels to 75 percent where hospitalization rates are low enough, under an executive order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott last week.
In areas where hospitalization rates remain high, businesses will continue to be restricted to 50-percent capacity. In areas where rates are not high, county officials will ultimately decide whether to opt in their county to open bars. County judges will have to help enforce health protocols.
Areas with high hospitalization rates are defined as those "trauma service areas" where hospitalization rates of COVID-19 patients exceeds 15 percent of total hospital capacity for at least seven consecutive days. A current list of areas with high rates of hospitalization can be found here.
"Thanks to Texans following the best health practices, our state is prepared for additional openings, including bars," Abbott said. "Opening bars does not mean that COVID-19 is no longer a threat, and most Texans are still susceptible to the virus. As bars and similar businesses begin to open, we all must remain vigilant and show personal responsibility to protect ourselves and our loved ones."
Meanwhile, some businesses - such as government offices, churches, and childcare facilities - will be allowed to continue to operate without any occupancy restrictions.
The order - Executive Order GA-32
- supersedes GA-30, which previously expanded occupancy levels. Last month, Abbot had announced that restaurants could increase to 75% capacity, though bars would remained closed, as Abbott had called them "COVID-spreading locations" and said that case numbers in the state would need to steady before they could open.
Additionally, the following Executive Orders are still effective: GA-10 (daily reporting COVID requirements), GA-13 (detention in county and municipal jails), GA-17 (Governor's Strike Force), GA-24 (termination of air travel restrictions), GA-25 (in person visits at county and municipal jails), GA-29 (Use of face coverings) and GA-31 (hospital capacity including re-authorization of elective surgeries).