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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. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.
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