HOUSTON - Texas has reopened Friday, in what is considered Phase One of Gov. Greg Abbott's plan to get the state economy back to normal.
Gov. Abbott announced that the reopening, which is driven by doctors advising of safe medical practices, would happen in phases after the Essential Services Order for Texas expired Thursday, April 30. Below are the details on Phase One and Phase Two.
What is Phase One?
As part of Phase One, the businesses that reopened today include retail stores, restaurants, malls, movie theaters, places of worship, state libraries and museums.
Occupancy must be no more than 25%, which is how some essential businesses have been operating during the stay-at-home order like H-E-B and Home Depot.
Also, all licensed health care workers can return to work.
Outdoor sports are allowed to resume so long as no more than four participants are playing together at one time.
Counties with five or fewer cases of COVID-19 can re-open at 50% occupancy.
So what will be open in the greater Houston area?
Several restaurants and stores have announced their new plans to open or remain closed. Simon Properties, which owns The Galleria, Katy Mills, and Premium Outlets, has opened doors to customers Friday. These properties will require health protocols, including the use of facial coverings and checking employees and customers for temperatures.
Brookfield Properties says Baybrook Mall, Deerbrook Mall, First Colony Mall, Willowbrook Mall, and The Woodlands Mall will not open on Friday, rather reopen on Tuesday, May 5.
While movie theaters can re-open Friday, only a handful are. AMC Theaters, Cinemark, and Regal haven’t announced any plans so far.
Galveston beaches are open as long as visitors follow social-distancing guidelines.
What will be closed?
Several government offices will remain closed, including DPS and DMV offices. City of Houston courts won’t start trials until at least June 1st.
Local museums and libraries are allowed to open across Texas, but within the City of Houston they will remain closed for now, says Mayor Sylvester Turner.
Salons, barbershops, tattoo parlors, bars, and gyms remain closed through at least mid-May, which would be Phase Two of Gov. Abbott's reopening plan.
What is Phase Two?
Phase Two would increase the capacity for Phase One businesses to 50% and look at reopening other types of businesses like gyms, hair salons, barbershops and bars.
Gov. Abbott says, "we need to see two weeks of data to confirm no flare-up of COVID-19" before moving on to Phase Two of reopening which would be May 18.
If I can't return to work, will I still receive Texas Workforce Commission benefits?
As businesses start to re-open, many workers say they're worried about returning to work. Many don't have child care or fear they'll catch COVID-19 on the job.
Governor Abbott just announced unemployment benefits will continue for workers is some situations.
Normally, turning down work can disqualify you for unemployment benefits. But Governor Abbott has announced the Texas Workforce Commission will continue benefits for workers who can't return for specific reasons.
Do I have to quarantine if I travel back to Texas from other states and cities?
Back in March, Gov. Abbott issued a mandatory two-week quarantine for people who have traveled from Louisiana by road or air and by air from 10 other states.
Now, Gov. Abbott says people traveling from Louisiana will no longer have to self-quarantine.
The mandatory quarantine will still apply for the following states and cities: California, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, and Miami.
Was Thursday the single-day high for COVID-19 deaths in Texas?
Texas’ coronavirus death toll hit a single-day high on Thursday, just as the state was preparing for today's reopening.
The state-reported death toll of 119 over the past three days marks the deadliest stretch since Texas’ first fatality in the pandemic was recorded March 17. Thursday’s 1,033 new cases is the first time the state has been over 1,000 since April 10.
Gov. Abbott's spokesman John Wittman said despite the spike in new infections, Texas has boosted testing and the infection rate per test is down to about 7%, compared with above 10% a few weeks ago.