Saying his statewide stay-at-home order “has done its job,” Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that he would let the restriction expire at the end of April.
“We’re not just going to open up and hope for the best,” he said in an April 27 press conference at the Texas Capitol. “Opening Texas must occur in phases.”
The governor’s “Phase One” plan will begin Friday, allowing all retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls to reopen May 1 with 25% capacity. Museums and libraries can also reopen with the same occupancy numbers.
“This order allows all these businesses to reopen,” he said in a press conference at the Texas Capitol. “It does not require them to do so.”
Under the first phase of his plan, “vulnerable populations” like seniors should remain home as much as possible, he said.
The state would move to the second phase of Abbott’s plan starting May 18 if there’s no secondary “flare-up” of COVID-19 cases, he said. The goal is to allow a gradual opening-up without triggering a surge in new infections.
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Stores, restaurants and movie theaters may open as long as they maintain only a 25% occupancy and follow social distancing. Under those guidelines, malls can also open but food courts, play areas and interactive displays or settings must remain closed. Museums and libraries can also open at a 25% occupancy but only if cities allow them. Outdoor sports such as golf and tennis may resume with no more than four participants in a match and with social distancing.
Abbott “strongly” recommended that Texans wear masks while in public, but it is not mandated under his order, which supersedes local ordinances from counties such as Dallas and Harris that had required Texans to wear masks.
No. Massage parlors, hair salons and barber shops, along with gyms, bowling alleys and arcades, will not open until about mid-May, Abbott said. The state is still working on figuring out how these businesses, in which people are in close contact, can safely reopen “ASAP,” he said.
Yes. Abbott loosened restrictions on elective medical procedures on April 17, allowing providers to offer non-emergency services if they could provide their own personal protective equipment. Under Abbott’s new order, restrictions for health care professionals will be further relaxed on Friday, but they will still have to abide by limits and guidelines issued by their licensing boards. “Patients need to get in to see those doctors, nurses and dentists,” Abbott said Monday.
Yes, houses of worship are classified as providing essential services. Services should be conducted remotely whenever possible, according to guidance provided by Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton. During in-person services, congregants should maintain appropriate distance between one another and practice good hygiene. It is suggested that separate services or seating areas be offered for at-risk populations.