Texas Gov. Greg Abbott laid out the’ next steps for what he calls a “safe and strategic” reopening of businesses while the state continues to deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gov. Abbott said that phase 1 of the plan to reopen Texas businesses will allow for retail stores, restaurants and movie theaters to open up this coming Friday, May 1, 2020.
Governor Abbott said that a previously issued Stay-at-Home order that is set to expire at midnight on May 1 will be allowed to expire as planned.
Phase 1 of the plan will allow venues to be open, but their capacity will be limited to 25% capacity. As far as enforcement of the measure, Gov. Abbott said that would be left up to local officials and regulatory agencies.
Gov. Abbott noted how Phase 2 could begin as early as May 18, depending on whether spread is still able to be prevented after Phase 1 begins. Phase 2 would allow businesses to move towards 50% capacity.
He also explained that Museums and libraries will also be allowed to reopen on Friday, however, any hands-on exhibits cannot.
Gov. Abbott did explain that barber shops, salons, gyms and bars are not deemed to be safe just yet. Gyms and salons, have been completely closed since March due to the pandemic.
“Look, we want those establishments to be open for business,” Gov. Abbott said. “But the doctors have said that they would prefer to not have them open just yet. But, I want them to be able to open as soon as possible.”
Places of worship will be able to expand capacity on May 1.
In an effort to reach out to smaller counties and rural communities that have few, if any cases of COVID-19. Abbott pointed out that in his plan, there would be different standards which would apply for counties with five or fewer cases. These counties will be able to open businesses up to phase 2 standards.
Spots would be allowed to move forward as long as they are kept within groups of 4 or less. Spots such as golf and tennis would be allowed. However, baseball and other sports are to remain postponed until further notice.
The Governor also introduced a handbook that would guide Texans through the reopening process. That handbook can be found on the state's website.
Governor Abbott also noted how while face masks are highly recommended, they are not required and there will be no enforcement action taken against people who do not abide by local ordinances which would require them to wear a mask.
“We would encourage this act and we highly recommend it,” Gov. Abbott said. “My order supersedes local orders.”
This is a developing story.