Gov. Greg Abbott pauses future capacity increases as COVID-19 cases skyrocket

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Gov. Greg Abbott is hitting pause on his phased plan to reopen Texas, he announced Thursday.

He said businesses that were permitted to open under the previous phases can continue to do so at the designated occupancy levels as well as under the minimum standard protocols from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

No more orders to increase capacity levels at businesses will be authorized until Gov. Abbott gives the go-ahead.

Phase 3 of Gov. Abbott’s plan to reopen the Texas economy was announced June 3. It stated that businesses operating at 25% capacity could increase to 50% capacity. Bars and restaurants could increase to 50% as long as patrons are seated, and restaurants could increase table party sizes from six to 10.

On June 12, restaurants could increase capacity to 75%, and amusement parks were allowed to open at 50% capacity on June 19.

Cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations associated with the disease skyrocketed recently in Texas. After a record of reported cases and hospitalizations both at the state level and locally, Austin Public Health Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said he is prepared to recommend a citywide shutdown if things get further out of hand.

“The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses. This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business,” Gov. Abbott said in a statement Thursday.

“I ask all Texans to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask, washing their hands regularly, and socially distancing from others. The more that we all follow these guidelines, the safer our state will be and the more we can open up Texas for business,” the statement read.

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