50% capacity rule OK’d for Gillespie establishments

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Minutes ago, Gillespie County Judge Mark Stroeher certified to the state that the requirements to meet the “50% capacity” threshold have been met.

That means Gillespie County restaurants and retail establishments are permitted (but not required) to open for business at half their normal capacity.

Stroeher sent the information to the Department of State Health Services for authorization on Friday morning. Earlier this week, the judge and others questioned if the information could be collected in time for the Friday “re-opening” of the Texas economy, as authorized by Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order.

“The authorization to operate at the higher level is permissive, not mandatory,” Stroeher said in an email to officials. “We have received a number of questions from business owners asking if they would be required to operate at the 50% level if they opened. The choice is theirs as to whether to operate at 50% or 25% or not to open at all.”

Stroeher said he submitted the attestation form to DSHS with some hesitancy because the county went from a single confirmed COVID-19 case to three confirmed cases on Thursday.

Some confusion also resulted after the governor's Monday talk about a blanket permission to open at 50% if fewer than 5 positive COVID-19 cases had been recorded in a county. But Stroeher and other officials had to collect a list of stipulations allowing for that additional capacity.

“If we get to six cases, then under the governor’s plan, the authorization to operate at 50% capacity will in all probability be withdrawn by the state and the businesses will be required to revert to operating at the 25% level,” Stroeher said.

At 11:30 a.m. Friday, Dr. Jim Partin, chief medical officer at Hill Country Memorial Hospital, said there had been 298 COVID-19 tests administered, with 295 negative and still 3 positive. There are 2 active cases in Gillespie and 1 recovered case.