If Houston cases continue to rise, here are the restrictions that could be coming

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- After a county shutdown was defeated in court, ABC13 took a look at what other restrictions could be added if COVID-19 cases begin to surge.

El Paso County, which is dealing with an outbreak, imposed a five-week lockdown, but it was brought to an end over the weekend.

A court ruled in favor of the state, which fought the shutdown. The case may have taken place in west Texas, but legal experts said it could signal any lockdown attempt in the Houston area won't stand.

READ MORE: Harris Co. Judge Lina Hidalgo on rising cases: 'Another pull-back is necessary'
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Could this mean another shut down for Harris County? If so, will it be different from the first? Here's what we know.



"Whatever explanation the court ends up giving for their decision could prove useful in predicting what could or could not happen here in Harris County," attorney Steve Shellist explained.

Southeast Texas isn't quite experiencing the outbreak like El Paso, but numbers are rising. ABC13 asked Mayor Sylvester Turner if lockdowns aren't an option, what would he do?

READ MORE: Houston's positivity rate rises close to 8% ahead of holiday
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Mayor Sylvester Turner didn't cancel Thanksgiving in Houston, but he urged people who plan to hold festivities to not let the coronavirus in for gatherings. The video shows what he urged families to do.



He said his focus is on masks.

"This is not an option," Turner explained. "This is a requirement. The fine, after you've been warned initially, is a $250 fine."

State numbers show the amount of COVID-19 patients in the Houston area is less than 5%, but in Galveston, which includes Beaumont, that number is around 11%.

Hospital officials worry the holidays will increase numbers.

"We're seeing the number of hospitalizations go up," said David Callender, the CEO of Memorial Hermann. "They've been going up over the last two weeks."

Local leaders may not be able to impose a shutdown, but there are other restrictions.

According to Gov. Greg Abbott's order, if the number of COVID-19 patients in a region exceeds 15%, new restrictions can be added. Business capacity will be reduced from 75% to 50%.

In El Paso County, the governor allowed other restrictions, including a curfew, closing bars, and limiting gatherings to ten people or less. Even though hospital numbers are rising in the Houston region, officials said if you need a bed, there are rooms available.

"We don't project any major crunch in terms of ICU bed availability in the next couple weeks," Callender explained.

If new restrictions are added, there's also a plan to remove them.

The number of COVID-19 patients must fall below 15% and stay there for at least two weeks.

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