Q: What pandemic restrictions are currently in effect?
A: During the pandemic, Gov. Greg Abbott has issued 25 executive orders in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. These orders have ranged from shutting down bars to requiring out-of-state travelers to quarantine. While many of the executive orders are no longer active, several remain in effect.
On July 2, Abbott ordered Texans to wear a mask when inside stores and other indoor public places, and outdoors when it is not possible to maintain 6 feet of social distancing. This order included exceptions for children under 10, people with certain medical conditions and anyone who is eating or drinking, voting, exercising or attending a religious service, among other activities. Counties with 20 or fewer case can opt out.
The order remains in effect and repeat violators can be fined up to $250. In the Crossroads, many local officials have opted for a voluntary approach.
Abbott has also released several orders limiting the capacity at which bars, restaurants and other businesses can operate. On Oct. 7, Abbott raised the occupancy limit for most businesses to 75% and allowed bars to open for the first time in months, at 50% capacity, as long as county judges permitted it. In Victoria County, Judge Ben Zeller allowed bars to open shortly thereafter.
However, Abbott introduced a new metric intended to prevent the reopening of the economy from leading to a spike in cases that would overwhelm hospitals. Every county in Texas belongs to one of 22 “trauma service areas,” a group of counties that coordinates health care services.
According to the Oct. 7 order, if more than 15% of the available hospital beds in a trauma service area are occupied by COVID-19 patients for seven consecutive days, businesses must reduce their capacity to 50% and bars can no longer open.
There are no capacity limits for houses of worship, child-care services, recreational sports programs, public or private schools or salons, barbershops and other personal care and beauty service establishments, according to the order.
This 75% capacity order, along with the mask order, remains active.