Restaurants, bars and many other businesses in North Texas face heightened restrictions after the region exceeded the governor’s threshold for COVID-19 hospitalizations.
More than 15% of hospital beds in the North Texas area were filled with confirmed coronavirus patients on Dec. 3, the seventh consecutive day the region was over that mark, according to the state's COVID-19 hospitalization dashboard.
This triggers automatic business-capacity reductions and bar closures across the Dallas-Fort Worth area in accordance with an October executive order from Gov. Greg Abbott.
"Governor Abbott continues to urge all Texans to follow the safe practices they mastered in the summer to slow the spread," Renae Eze, the governor's press secretary, said in a statement Dec. 3. "We’ve slowed the spread before, and we will do it again while we await the arrival of vaccines later this month."
Businesses that have been operating at 75% capacity—such as restaurants, retailers, gyms and office buildings—will have to ramp back down to half of normal capacity in the coming days, the order states.
The new restrictions went into effect immediately throughout North Texas, the governor’s office said, but the timing of enforcement may differ depending on the municipality.
The city of Lewisville plans to send fire inspectors to each business in the coming days, informing owners of the new restrictions, city spokesperson Matt Martucci said in an email. After that process is complete, the city would then inspect businesses in response to any complaints received, he added.
Rachel Patterson, environmental health and sustainability director for the city of Plano, said in a statement that the city would continue to enforce the governor’s orders by sending staff from multiple departments to businesses and requesting their voluntary compliance. These efforts have been successful to this point of the pandemic, she said.
Under the governor’s order, bars that had reopened in areas with low hospitalizations would be required to close again. But some bars will avoid having to close if alcoholic beverages make up less than 51% of their total sales, the order states.
In addition to enforcing the new restrictions on businesses, the city of Lewisville announced all city facilities would be available by appointment only beginning Dec. 4. More details on each facility were expected to be made available on the city website.
Hospital numbers are tracked according to trauma service areas. Trauma Service Area E, the latest region to exceed the governor's threshold, comprises Dallas, Tarrant, Denton and Collin counties, among 15 others.
The governor’s order states the area’s hospitals would need to see the number of COVID-19 patients at or below 15% of staffed beds for another seven consecutive days before the restrictions would reverse.