As part of the first phase in re-opening the state, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday which businesses can reopen later this week when the state’s stay at home order is set to expire.
All retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and malls are permitted to reopen on Friday, May 1, the day after the stay at home order expires. These services must limit their capacity to 25 percent of their listed occupancy, Abbott said.
All museums and libraries may open under the same 25 percent occupancy limitation, but interactive areas of museums must remain closed. State libraries and museums will open by May 1, and local public museums and libraries may reopen only if permitted by the local government. Single-person offices may reopen as well.
“This strategic approach to opening the state of Texas prioritizes the health and safety of our communities and follows the guidelines laid out by our team of medical experts,” said Governor Abbott. “Now more than ever, Texans must remain committed to safe distancing practices that reduce the spread of COVID-19, and we must continue to rely on doctors and data to provide us with the safest strategies to restore Texans’ livelihoods. We must also focus on protecting the most vulnerable Texans from exposure to COVID-19. If we remain focused on protecting the lives of our fellow Texans, we can continue to open the Lone Star State.”
Churches and places of worship remain open. Outdoor sports are allowed to resume so long as no more than four participants are playing together at one time. Certain social distancing practices must also be followed. Local government operations, including county and municipal government operations relating to permitting, recordation, and document-filing services, may reopen as determined by the local government.
Essential services such as farmers and ranchers, grocery and drug stores, banks, and gas stations will continue to operate. while public swimming pools, bars, gyms, cosmetology salons, massage establishments, interactive amusement venues, such as bowling alleys and video arcades, and tattoo and piercing studios will remain closed through Phase One but may reopen in mid-May.
Phase I will begin Friday May 1 and continue until at least May 18. The Governor will continue to evaluate next steps for the state.
During the Monday press conference, Abbott also eased requirements for all Texans to wear facial coverings though officials recommend they continue to do so and continue practicing social distancing.
In a news release following Abbott’s press conference, Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez said he considering transitioning some of the local restrictions to “voluntary preventive measures.”
“We now know what works. Social distancing, avoiding mass gatherings, personal hygiene and facial coverings have proven to be effective mitigation strategies,” Cortez said. “As we move forward it is important that we all keep practicing these sound preventive measures so we may more quickly return to a fully functional economy.”