Houston mayor approves return of events in the city, but with limits

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- It has been six months since the first COVID-19 case was identified in the Houston area, giving way soon after to the abrupt end of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

Since then, official special events - both in the convention and sporting realms - have been called off over fears of the virus' spread.

On Wednesday, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced a steady return to these types of gatherings, requiring these major events to be staged under strict guidelines.

According to the mayor, the city will start with a small audience, allowing up to 25% of a venue's normal occupancy. Everyone is required to wear masks and practice social distancing. Attendees are also subject to a temperature check and a COVID-19 questionnaire.



Events in uncontrolled spaces, such as parades and festivals, will not be approved and likely on hold through the rest of the year. This would mean the city's Thanksgiving Day parade is out in 2020.




In announcing the reopenings, Turner offered immediate examples of upcoming events under the guidelines. The Houston Texans have a "Drive-In Tailgate Party" on Thursday that will allow up to 400 people to attend, or a maximum of four people for each of a maximum 100 vehicles allowed.

The Texans already announced that no fans will be in the stands at NRG Stadium for their first home game on Sept. 20.

In addition, Turner announced BBVA Stadium can allow up to 3,000 fans to attend Dynamo and Dash matches.

As for upcoming Texans and Astros games, Turner said those matches can have fans in the seats as long as they follow the capacity limit. As of Wednesday afternoon, neither club has announced plans to bring their followers back in their stadiums.

RELATED: UH Cougars football games to be played with 25% capacity
EMBED More News Videos

The Coogs' House will host only a quarter of its fans as more college programs figure out how they'll play in a pandemic.



Currently, Texas guidelines state limiting indoor events to 50% of an establishment's normal capacity. Places of worship are exempt.



The new guidelines came as the mayor delivered good news on the city's virus positivity rate. After peaking as high as 23%, Houston is hovering around 6.6%.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has hinted at allowing businesses to reopen or expand capacity, to which Turner urged caution.

Turner weighs in on county judge's call for full reopening



The mayor was also asked Wednesday about a neighboring county judge's belief that Texas must reopen 100%.

Last week, Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough pleaded his case to Gov. Abbott to make every aspect of Texas life available again, citing a "99% survival rate" from the virus.

But, Turner said Keough is mistaken.

"Can you imagine where we would be if we didn't do these things, take these precautions?" Turner said. "I find it irresponsible. When I heard the comments. I resisted the temptation to respond."

The reasons a Houston-area county leader gave for full reopening
EMBED More News Videos

With Texas Gov. Greg Abbott poised to address possible reopenings entering the 7th month of the state's COVID-19 crisis, one Houston area county judge gives his reasons for not just reopening businesses, but at a 100% capacity. Watch the video and see whether you agree with the judge.

Copyright © 2020 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.