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According to a press release sent by Howard County Judge Kathryn Wiseman and Big Spring Mayor Shannon Thomson, on September 17, 2020, Texas Governor Gregg Abbott issued GA-31 which outlines the guidelines for Texas counties to follow for COVID-19 response. GA-31 includes the governor’s mandate stating if a region’s hospitalization rate exceeds 15% for seven consecutive days, that region must impose stricter COVID-19 guidelines.


Howard County is a part of region J for the state of Texas; on November 15, 2020, region J went above the 15% hospitalization rate for COVID-19 patients. On November 23, 2020, region J remained above a 15% hospitalization rate. Pursuant to GA-31 and by order of Governor Greg Abbott, Big Spring and Howard County must reduce the occupancy rate for non-exempt businesses from 75 percent capacity to 50 percent capacity.


Bars and similar establishments that hold a permit from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) and are not restaurants may offer on-premises services at up to 50 percent of the establishments total listed occupancy. Patrons at bars and similar establishments operating under these guidelines may eat or drink only while seated.


Staff members are not included when determining operating levels with the exception of manufacturing services and office workers. The Governor’s Order GA-32 provides more specific instruction about this change.


These guidelines took effect in Howard County as of 12:00 AM this morning.


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