Valley restaurants allowed to increase capacity to 75%

Colletti’s Restaurant guest Ann Roberts prepares to once again enjoy a meal at the restaurant yesterday after it opened its doors to the public once again.

HARLINGEN — A drop in Rio Grande Valley COVID-19 hospitalizations has led state officials to allow businesses such as the region’s retail stores and restaurants to expand from 50 percent to 75-percent customer capacity, signaling an economic boost.

Officials said Valley hospitalization levels dropped to below 15 percent months after an early summer surge in new COVID-19 cases led to soaring hospitalizations that pressed hospitals over capacity, sparking a regional crisis.

As a result, Gov. Greg Abbott scaled back plans to expand the Valley’s economy, cutting businesses’ customer capacity from 75 percent to 50 percent to curb exposure to the coronavirus.

For about a month, the region’s number of new COVID-19 cases has continued to drop after an alarming summer spike that led Cameron and Hidalgo counties to order measures such as curfews.

Officials attribute the drop in new cases to residents following federal safety guidelines aimed at controlling the spread of the virus.

In Harlingen, Mayor Chris Boswell called the state’s action “good news” but warned residents to keep their guard up.

“COVID is still out there,” he stated in a press release. “Thanks to everyone for continuing to use safe practices so that we don’t get shut down again.”