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Bars in Texas can now operate at 50% capacity, state also loosening restrictions for restaurants and other businesses

"The people of Texas continue to prove that we can safely and responsibly open our state for business," Gov. Abbott said in a release.

SAN ANTONIO — Bars in Texas began to serve customers in a limited capacity for the first time in weeks earlier this month after getting the green light by Gov. Greg Abbott to reopen. Now, the state is loosening the reins a bit more and allowing bars to operate at up to 50% their regular capacity after revising health guidance protocols on Wednesday. 

The measure is effective immediately. 

Up to this point, bars could only operate at 25% their regular occupancy limits due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, although that mandate doesn't apply to outdoor areas. 

The state is still mandating that customers not loiter at the bar or "commonly trafficked areas," and tables still shouldn't be seating more than 10 patrons. Individual groups should also remain at least six feet away from each other, and dancing or other activities "that enable close human contact...are discouraged." 

Meanwhile, the state also said restaurants can "expand their minimum table size from six to 10 persons." And, on June 12, restaurants can begin to operate at 75% their regular occupancy limits. 

The state is slowly allowing more businesses and attractions to reopen; the San Antonio Zoo recently welcomed back on-foot visitors for the first time since March, and the Aquatica is set to resume operations Friday. 

"The people of Texas continue to prove that we can safely and responsibly open our state for business while containing COVID-19 and keeping our state safe," Abbott is quoted as saying in a press release. 

As of Wednesday afternoon, just over 68,200 Texans were confirmed to have the novel coronavirus, and 1,734 residents have died from virus-related complications. 

In the same release, Abbott says that recent jumps in the daily number of new cases largely stems from "isolated hot spots in nursing homes, jails and meat-packing plants."

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