Governor Abbott in a press conference September 17 said he is authorizing more businesses, including all retail stores, gyms and restaurants; to push forward with reopening plans after a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations over the summer has started to decline.

Abbott said the state has been divided into 22 regions where officials will monitor hospital capacity and virus cases. In 19 of the 22 regions where Covid-19 patients are now less than 15% of all hospitalizations, more businesses that have been allowed to reopen at 50% capacity will be permitted to increase to 75% capacity beginning Monday including Amarillo. Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities will be allowed to reopen for visitations beginning Sept. 24 as long as they don’t have a coronavirus outbreak, he said.

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“Since late July, the spread of Covid-19 has steadily and significantly declined. The number of new cases and new hospitalizations have been cut by more than two-thirds. Just yesterday we had the lowest number of hospitalizations in the past three months,” Abbott said.

However bars are still not allowed to open.

“Covid does still exist and most Texans remain susceptible,” Abbott said during a news conference. “If we fully reopen Texas without limits, without safe practices, it can lead to an unsustainable increase in Covid that would require the possibility of being forced to ratchet back down.”

During his online press conference many social media users commented that he needs to lift the requirement to wear a mask in public and end social distancing.