On Friday, Texas became the first state to reimpose a lockdown as it faces what Gov. Greg Abbott described as a "massive outbreak" of COVID-19 cases following its attempted reopening, The Hill reports.
Abbott's executive order will close bars that had previously been allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity, beginning at noon on Friday (bars may remain open for delivery and takeout). Restaurants are also being scaled back from being allowed to operate at 75 percent capacity for dine-in service to 50 percent capacity, beginning Monday. Outdoor gatherings of over 100 people are once more banned (the number had recently been raised to 500), and river-rafting trips and tubing have also been halted.
"At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars," Abbott said in his statement, adding "we can only slow the spread if everyone in Texas does their part."
Texas initially imposed its statewide lockdown in mid-March. Abbott allowed restaurants to reopen on May 1 at limited capacity, followed by bars on May 22, also at limited capacity. "The state now has almost twice as many people hospitalized with COVID-19 as it did on June 14, when the number was at 2,287," writes CBS News. "This spike occurred after restaurants were allowed to increase capacity to 75 percent and almost all businesses allowed to operate with some safety measures in place."
As recently as Thursday, Abbott had insisted that "the last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses."