New COVID-19 restrictions in place as cases continue to rise

News Connection

The orders came as COVID-19 cases across the state continue to rise

SAN ANGELO, Texas — Governor Abbott today ordered the closure of all Texas bars. The order comes as cases of COVID-19 increase significantly in Tom Green County and across the state.

On Friday, Governor Abbott ordered bars across the state that receive more than 51% of their gross income from alcohol sales to close their doors. His order stated they may remain open for delivery and take-out, including for alcoholic beverages, as authorized by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. It also stated restaurants will be required to limit inside dining to 50% capacity beginning on Monday.

Derrick Hoffman, Co-Owner of Shenanigans Sports Bar in San Angelo, opened his bar for just one hour on Friday before having to close its doors.

“It really hit us out of left field. We just ordered $4,000 worth of food to get through the weekend. This is a huge hit for us and every bar owner in town,” said Hoffman, “I feel they should’ve given us a little bit of something instead of completely shutting us down. 25% isn’t great but it’s functioning and our employees can make money, cooks can work, we can pay bills. When they take 100% of it away it’s completely unfair.”

Shenanigans Sports Bar will be going back to curbside orders until further notice. Hoffman said he hopes the government will offer bar establishments help while they remain closed.

“I hope the government will see we need help. I’d like to keep our 30 employees off of unemployment. We’ve already gone through all the resources and grants they offered on the first go-around. I hope this turns around fast and we’re open by mid-July or before. Hopefully everybody abides and we can open soon,” added Hoffman.

The orders came as COVID-19 cases across the state continue to rise. Locally in Tom Green County, outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people are no longer allowed, parks will close from 10:00pm to 6:00am, and beginning Saturday all stores with an occupancy of 100 or more will require employees and customers to wear face masks.

“That was the easiest of my decisions to make because that’s the easiest thing for all of us to do, wear a face mask to stop the spread of this disease,” said the Local Health Authority, Dr. James Vretis, “Not following the order can result in a Class B Misdemeanor. We don’t want people arrested or fined, we just want people to know this is what they need to be doing. They need to know if they don’t, they’re making a conscious decision to violate what is a legal order at this time.”

According to Dr. Vretis, this is likely only the beginning of new restrictions.

“I think we will go backwards. It’s a shame because we warned everybody upfront. Everybody let it fly by and now we’re all paying the consequences for their actions,” explained Dr. Vretis.

He also said it is now taking as long as a week to get local test results back, as a number of Texas hospitals are now nearing capacity.

“We’re not going to use the Austin lab we’ve been using. Now Shannon is sending the drive-thru tests to New Jersey. Instead of 24-48 hour turnarounds, we’re looking at 7 day turnarounds,” said Dr. Vretis, “Eagle Pass intubated 5 patients. They send them to San Antonio but now San Antonio is full and they’re not accepting patients. Eagle Pass is our secondary referral area so we’re going to start getting patients from there.”

Dr. Vretis reminds everyone to wear their masks, social distance and wash their hands.

“This is what will get us through it. So many people don’t want to wear a mask. When I’m at work I wear two masks. I don’t like it, but it’s not as bad as getting the disease or giving the disease to somebody else,” added Dr. Vretis.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Current status of COVID-19 testing in San Angelo