Texas and Florida ordered bars to stop serving alcohol on site Friday amid a record-breaking surge in COVID-19 cases in both states, as the White House coronavirus task force was set to hold its first public briefing in almost two months.
The two populous southern states, home to some 50 million people, were spared the worst of the outbreak in spring but are now being struck hard.
The United States, already the hardest-hit country in the world with close to 125,000 deaths, never fully emerged from its first wave. Following a weeks-long plateau, new cases are once again back to where they were in April.
“At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars,” said Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican ally of President Donald Trump.
As a result, bars will be required to close but may continue providing delivery and take-out services. Other measures include that restaurants can remain open with 50 percent capacity indoors, and outdoor gatherings of 100 people or more require local government approval.
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