By Luis Miguel - luisantoniomiguel.com
Another round of caving has begun.
Texas and Florida on Friday announced that they are rolling back some of their reopening policies, bringing back restrictions on commercial activity in response to the mainstream media's wide reports of rising coronavirus cases in those states.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, told residents of the Lone Star State that bars will once more be closed, restaurants must return to 50-percent capacity, and river-rafting businesses must shut down.
Additionally, local officials will be given greater control over how to handle large crowds going into the Fourth of July.
Abbott's announcement appears to diverge from his stance on Monday, when he said retrenchment "will always be the last option."
Texas reported 5,596 new coronavirus cases on Thursday alone, a major jump from just 20 days ago when the daily new case number was 1,254.
Abbott argued that the opening of bars was largely to blame. "At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars," he said in a written statement.
Texas bars will remain open for delivery and takeout, including for alcoholic beverages, so long as they receive authorization from the state's bar regulator.
Outdoor gatherings totaling more than 100 people will have to receive approval from local governments.
"The gathering is prohibited unless the mayor of the city in which the gathering is held, or the county judge - in the case of a gathering in an unincorporated area - approves of the gathering, and such approval can be made subject to certain conditions or restrictions not inconsistent with this executive order," Abbott's order reads.
As with the governor's previous executive orders, the cap on outdoor crowd size does not apply to religious services, youth camps, sporting events, and amusement parks.
In Florida, meanwhile, the state government has ordered that bars may not serve alcohol onsite. Halsey Beshears, secretary of the Department of Business & Professional Regulation, made the announcement on Twitter.
The order states that restaurants may continue to serve alcohol so long as more than 50 percent the business's total revenue is not derived from sales of alcohol for consumption on the premises.
Bars may also keep selling alcoholic beverages so long as they are taken out in sealed containers, and not consumed at the store.
Under the original reopening plan of Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, bars and other locales could sell alcohol for onsite consumption so long as they kept their venue filled below 50-percent capacity. But the state now says it must act because positive tests have risen, "especially among younger individuals." The order says it is suspected that younger people got the virus from going to bars, pubs, and nightclubs.
Florida set a record for COVID-19 cases on Friday, with 8,942 people testing positive, surpassing the previous record of 5,508 from just two days ago. Nearly 13 percent of people who have received a test in the state have tested positive.
The move is likely to push many bars, which were already on the brink after months of being forced to shut down, into complete financial ruin. And the logic behind the restriction on alcohol consumption is baffling. Does the governor of Texas truly believe that people can get coronavirus at a bar but not at an amusement park or sporting event (both activities that are exempted from his order)? Does the governor of Florida believe one can become infected drinking a beer at a bar with 15 people, but not drinking beer at a restaurant with 50 people?
The backtracks come as both states were heavily targeted by the Left and the mainstream media for their high case numbers.
Florida, for example, has been trending on Twitter nearly every day this week, including under hashtags such as #ResignDeSantis.
The media continues to downplay the fact that, despite the rising cases, the death rate has not returned to earlier levels. Young people may be getting infected, but they aren't dying from it.
If the virus isn't deadly to most people (in fact, it has a 97.4-percent survivability rate), what difference does it make if so many are infected and get hit with some mild flu-like symptoms, so long as they willingly keep away from their elderly and at-risk loved ones (who also have the freedom of choice to stay at home)?
It's simply a case of more tyrannical fearmongering. Unfortunately, it appears to be working on Republican governors.