Hays County prepares residents for potential COVID-19 restrictions 

By Sahar Chmais 

Restrictions in Hays County are expected to roll out on Monday, Jan. 11, due to increased hospital capacity.

Under Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order G-31 and G-32, bars must close, elective surgeries may have to be rescheduled and many businesses will have to reduce occupancy to 50%. 

Executive Order GA-32 was enacted on Oct. 14 in Texas Trauma Service Area (TSA) where there is a high hospitalization rate. Hays County, part of TSA Region O, has had a steady increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations. When COVID-19 hospitalizations make up 15% or more of total hospitalizations for seven consecutive days, the order is enacted. 

According to Hays County, that number has surpassed 15% on Sunday, Jan. 3 and continued to increase. While the rollback is not yet in place, Hays County wants residents to prepare for the potential rollbacks which may need to occur. 

Other counties part of TSA Region O includes: Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, San Saba, Travis, and Williamson counties.

Businesses will be impacted differently by the order.

Bars not operating as a restaurant under Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) rules need to close. Bars can offer drive-thru, pickup and delivery services.

Any business that was open to 75% occupancy will reduce the limit to 50%. These businesses include: retail establishments, restaurants, bars operating as restaurants, office buildings, manufacturers, museums, libraries, gyms and fitness facilities and classes. 

Elective surgeries will need to be rescheduled, unless they do not deplete any hospital capacity needed to cope with COVID-19 disaster. 

Places not impacted by the potential ordinance include religious services, local government operations, childcare services, public or private schools, youth camps, adult or youth recreational sports, drive-in movie theatres, concerts and similar events. Person care and beauty establishments working with six-foot distancing between workstations and more. 

The full list of exemptions under Executive Order GA-32 can be found here

The Executive Orders will be removed when COVID-19 hospitalizations dip below the total of 15% for seven consecutive days.

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About Author

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Sahar Chmais holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. She has been covering cities in Hays County for one year, touching on residents' struggles and successes, city issues, COVID-19 and more. Prior to reporting on the local spectrum, Sahar reported for a national news organization, covering gun violence. Sahar enjoys working as a local reporter because she gets to work with real people and their stories.

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