Per Gov. Greg Abbott's Executive Order GA-32, certain businesses may be required to decrease occupancy if the region continues to see hospitalization rates higher than 15% for at least seven consecutive days. This means businesses that are currently allowed to operate at 75% capacity will have to reduce to 50% operation levels.
Region O's hospitalization rate surpassed 15% on Jan. 3 and has continued to increase since then.
A rollback has not been mandated yet, but local officials said they anticipate one will be issued as early as Jan. 10.
“It has never been more crucial for us as a community to reduce the spread of this virus,” Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell said in the release. “We all must consistently follow the personal protective measures we have been emphasizing throughout the course of this pandemic. Please wear a mask, watch your distance around people outside your household, and wash your hands frequently. This is the best way to keep ourselves and our family members safe and reduce the number of people being hospitalized daily."
Austin-Travis County interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said in a Jan. 6 press release that Travis County would also be subject to rollbacks as early as the coming weekend.
"Likely this weekend Austin and Travis County, jurisdiction TSA O, will transition into that state that is going to necessitate rollbacks of occupancy and rollbacks of elective procedure," Escott said. "The state is in surge. The state is in crisis, and now is the time more than ever that we need everyone to band together and follow those directions."
In addition, GA-32 states that bars or similar establishments that are not restaurants cannot operate indoors on premises, but they may offer drive-thru, pickup or delivery options as authorized by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the release said. The occupancy limit applies only to indoor and not outdoor areas, events or establishments, although social distancing and other safety protocols must be followed. The rollback also does not apply to religious services; local government operations; child care services; youth camps; recreation sports programs for youth and adults; public or private schools; and drive-in concerts, movies or similar events, which are listed as having no occupancy limit, according to the order, it said.
Personal care and beauty services can operate with at least 6 feet of social distancing between work stations, the release added.
All of the exemptions and information in GA-32 can be found on Abbott’s website here.