Restaurant capacity expands to 75% under governor's plan as Austin officials worry about COVID-19 surge
Another part of Phase 3 of Gov. Greg Abbott's plan to reopen Texas goes into effect today, which means restaurants can open up to 75% of their full capacity.
The governor's office is staying the course on its reopening plan, even as both new cases and hospitalizations rise locally and across the state.
A portion of Phase 3 was initiated on June 3 when Abbott first announced the executive order. Meanwhile, Mayor Steve Adler and local health officials spoke out this week as new COVID-19 cases surged, showing triple-digit growth, and the city saw an increase in average daily hospitalizations.
The timeline of Phase 3 is as follows:
Effective June 3:
- All businesses currently operating at 25% capacity can expand their occupancy to 50% with certain exceptions.
- Bars and similar establishments may increase their capacity to 50% as long as patrons are seated.
- Amusement parks and carnivals in counties with less than 1,000 confirmed positive cases may open at 50% capacity.
- Restaurants may expand their maximum table size from 6 to 10 persons.
Effective June 12:
- Restaurants may expand their occupancy levels to 75%.
- Counties with 10 or less active COVID-19 cases may expand their occupancy limits to 75%.
Effective June 19:
- Amusement parks and carnivals in counties with more than 1,000 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 may open at 50% capacity.
The order included special standards for outdoor gatherings and celebrations, such as the Fourth of July, relegating those regulations to local officials. It also reminded people to wear face coverings, avoid groups greater than 10 people and avoid nursing homes.
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Some of your favorite Instagram filters can’t be used in Texas anymore and Austinites are sounding off on social media.
Meta, Facebook and Instagram’s parent company, announced on Wednesday that certain filters would no longer be available in Texas.
The change is a result of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s lawsuit against Meta, alleging the company uses facial recognition technology that violates laws in Texas. A release from Meta says it stopped using facial recognition tech in November 2021 and denies Paxton’s allegations.
Some Austinites bemoaned the shift, saying some of their favorite filters were now unavailable.
This was my FAVORITE filter on @instagram and they done removed it cause I’m in Texas ! Like wowwwwww pic.twitter.com/uX60hdIC0Q
— Pinkyy Montana (@inkstar_pinkyy) May 11, 2022
i heard that instagram filters got banned in texas? what the actual fuck y’all better give me my favorite filter back
— lia 🤍 (@liatootrill) May 11, 2022
loved this stupid filter sm i hate texas pic.twitter.com/DXr9mmUc64
— birthday boy jeno 🎂 (@beabtox) May 12, 2022
But more often than not, locals joked about the ban.
Texas women seeing the filter ban on IG pic.twitter.com/yDMcP3Qtsr
— Christian (Anabolic) Flores (@christian_flo24) May 11, 2022
So, the state of Texas has banned filter use on IG? THE END IS NEAR. 😂
— THE FRANCHISE! Франшиза (@NYCFranchise718) May 12, 2022
And some in-between chose to show off some natural beauty.
I live in Texas, but no filter needed. 😉 pic.twitter.com/A6teRgYMKn
— bad and bruja (@starseedmami) May 11, 2022
filter, no filter..texas women still reign supreme.
— 🎍 (@_sixile) May 11, 2022
Finally, some are trying to cash in on the opportunity.
Texas IG users- if you want to filter your picture cashapp me $1.50 $ErvnYng
— Gemini (@ervn_y) May 11, 2022
Meta said it plans to create an opt-in system for both Texas and Illinois residents, who are facing the same issues.
Power demand is forecast to push within 600 megawatts of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas' capacity Friday afternoon as a record month of heat continues.
Demand for the statewide power grid hit over 65,000 Mw at 5 p.m., just under the capacity the grid can handle. ERCOT announced approximately 2,900 Mw of power was lost on Friday due to six power generation facilities tripping offline. At 5 p.m. it said all reserve generation resources available are operating. Texans have been asked to conserve energy.
Inbox: ERCOT says "six power generation facilities tripped offline resulting in the loss of approximately 2,900 MW of electricity. At this time, all reserve generation resources available are operating." Asks Texans to conserve power... pic.twitter.com/g6LxJlHlop
— Forrest Wilder (@Forrest4Trees) May 13, 2022
As the power grid threatens to buckle under the weight of consumers, record-breaking heat continues to push up demand. Austin is currently in the hottest May on record, with temperatures averaging at 82 degrees—eight degrees higher than average—at Austin's Camp Mabry.
And Austin is expected to have another triple-digit onslaught next week, with temperatures peaking at highs of 100 degrees Friday and Saturday. As a result, demand could peak Monday, with forecast demand expected to reach a May record of 70,758 Mw. The previous record was 67,265 in 2018, while ERCOT's all-time high was 74,820 Mw in August 2019.
While ERCOT has not yet seen a heat surge reminiscent of 2021's Winter Storm Uri, power outage woes became all too real for around 3,600 southeast Austinites Saturday as Austin Energy put on a last-resort power pause from around 3:30 to 7:30 p.m.
The outage was a culmination of many factors—from near-100 degree heat to unfortunately-timed maintenance checks and growth in the Bluff Springs area. The result was an overheating circuit that needed relief fast.
"It was related to high usage overloading one circuit at a time when some of our infrastructure was still undergoing maintenance in preparation for the months to come," Austin Energy spokesperson Matt Mitchell told Austonia. "So it was a very unique set of circumstances that we do not see repeating itself."
Mitchell said that all seasonal maintenance is complete and that Austin Energy will open a new power substation in Bluff Springs this June. The organization also said the issue had nothing to do with ERCOT, which released a statement assuring consumers that power was not threatened during that time.
NEW: ERCOT projects there will be sufficient supply of power to meet demand for this week. pic.twitter.com/fPZWHbWyoc
— Lindsey Ragas (@LindseyRagas) May 10, 2022
ERCOT also told Austonia before 5 p.m. that it "projects there will be sufficient generation to meet demand for electricity" on Friday. It then informed the public about the energy loss due to a power trip.
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