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Capacity Restrictions For Austin-Area Businesses Could Be Loosened Saturday

Stylists do customers' hair at Milk + Honey Spa.
Gabriel C. Pérez
Stylists wear face masks while doing customers' hair at Milk + Honey Spa in downtown Austin last September.

Businesses in an 11-county area around Austin may be allowed to raise operating capacity from 50% to 75% on Saturday as restrictions triggered by COVID-19 hospitalization trends expire.

Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order GA-32 requires businesses to reduce business occupancy in Trauma Service Areas where COVID-19 patients make up at least 15% of total hospital capacity for seven straight days. Doctors must also cancel elective procedures.

The restrictions are automatically lifted if the area drops under the15% threshold for seven consecutive days.

"We were the last metropolitan jurisdiction to enter that over 15% mark that triggered GA-32," Austin Public Health's interim Director Dr. Mark Escott said at a news conference Friday. "We will likely be the first one to leave that as early as Saturday."

Trauma Service Area O includes Travis, Hays, Williamson, Bastrop, Caldwell, Lee, Fayette, Blanco, Burnet, Llano and San Saba counties.

Certain counties are exempt from the 50% restriction if they have shown to the state to have a minimal number of coronavirus cases. In Austin’s trauma service area, this applies to Lee and San Saba counties.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.
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