HOUSTON — Texas restaurants will return to 50 percent capacity limits Monday as the state begins to scale back its reopening plan in response to increasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
The positivity rate in Texas recently increased to above 14.3 percent. For the sixth day in a row, Texas reported more than 5,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday.
Houston, which has an 11 percent positive rate, is now a coronavirus hot spot.
Restaurants had been operating at 75 percent capacity since June 12. Despite being forced to take a step back, restaurants across the state are glad they can remain open.
Governor allows mixed drinks to-go
Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a waiver over the weekend allowing bars and eligible restaurants to offer mixed drinks to-go. It’s available to businesses with a mixed drink permit and permanent food service capabilities on site.
The waiver is an extension of a temporary order allowing bars and dining establishments to sell factory-sealed alcoholic drinks to-go. But this time around, restaurants and bars can give customers mixed-drinks that were sealed in house.
The extension is great news who are struggling to make profits during the coronavirus pandemic.
“To-go orders are going to be an increasingly important part of restaurants’ business and operations,” Kelsey Erickson Streufert with the Texas Restaurant Association said. “And also, a critically important part of how we feed Texans because restaurants are 51 percent of the food dollar.”
Texas's reopening takes a pause
Last week, Abbott announced his reopening plan is being temporarily paused and health experts would reassess the state of coronavirus is Texas. Bars were ordered to shut down their dining rooms and switch exclusively to pickup and delivery sales.
Gov. Abbott has continued to reiterate that the reopening process would be guided by “doctors and data.”
In a recent interview, the governor reflected on the progression the state has made. Abbott admitted bars were reopened too soon, but he added that there were no signs the virus could spread so quickly in a bar setting.