The states of Texas and Florida will close bars, scale back restaurant capacities, and implement new safety measures due to recent COVID-19 surges in the two states. Both states adopted lax safety measures and were two of the earliest states to reopen their economies since the start of the pandemic in March.
NPR reports that following a record high 5,996 cases in a single day — and two days in a row of record-high new infections — Texas governor Greg Abbott announced that bars across the state would have to convert to take-out service only beginning at noon, on June 26th, and that restaurants would have to scale back their dine-in services operations to below 50% capacity beginning Monday.
“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,” Gov Abbott said in a statement announcing the new directives, which also includes a shutdown of river-rafting and tubing businesses and a new outdoor gathering limit of 100 people. All events exceeding that amount must seek approval from local officials. Governor Abbott has also stressed that Texans need to start regularly wearing face masks.
We need ALL Texans to follow the safety protocols from our team of medical experts including:
— Gov. Greg Abbott (@GovAbbott) June 22, 2020
In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis also ordered bars to be shut down after the state recorded a record 8,942 new cases in a single day, beating the state’s previous record of 5,508 set just two days earlier, according to NBC News. Restaurants in several Florida counties will now convert back to take-out only services, according to Florida Today.
The state of Florida currently has over 123,000 coronavirus cases, with 32,000 cases being confirmed in just the last week. Despite the climbing numbers, Gov. DeSantis has yet to respond to calls for a statewide mandate on masks, though several counties throughout Florida have implemented their own mask policies.