Texas and Florida clamped down on bars again Friday in the nation’s biggest retreat yet as a surge across the South and West sent the number of confirmed new coronavirus infections per day in the U.S. to an all-time high of 40,000.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered all bars closed, while Florida banned alcohol consumption at all such establishments. The two states joined the small but growing list of those that are either backtracking or putting any further reopenings of their economies on hold because of a comeback by the virus.
Abbott had pursued up to now one of the most aggressive reopening schedules of any state and had not only resisted calls to order the wearing of masks but had also refused until last week to let local governments take such measures.
The Florida Department of Health reported 8,942 new coronavirus cases, shattering the previous daily high for positive COVID-19 infections made just two days earlier.
The state also is shutting down on-site alcohol consumption at bars, according to Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation Secretary Halsey Beshears.
Effective immediately, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation is suspending on premises consumption of alcohol at bars statewide.
— HalseyBeshears (@HalseyBeshears) June 26, 2020
He also shut down river-rafting trips, which have been blamed for a swift rise in cases in Hays County, and banned outdoor gatherings of over 100 people unless local officials approve.
“At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars,” Abbott said in a news release. “The actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and protect public health.”
Bars must close at noon Friday, and the reduction in restaurant capacity takes effect Monday. Before Abbott’s announcement Friday, bars were able to operate at 50% capacity and restaurants at 75% capacity.