AUSTIN, Texas - Governor Greg Abbott has issued a new executive order to reopen Texas.
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 expires on April 30.
As part of Phase 1, the businesses that can reopen on Friday, May 1 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.
There are several health and safety protocols that must be followed by each of these businesses.
By way of Executive Order (GA-18), single-person offices may reopen as well.
Outdoor sports are allowed to resume so long as no more than four participants are playing together at one time.
As with everything, certain social distancing practices must be followed.
There are areas within these businesses that must remain closed. Food-court dining areas, play areas, and interactive displays and settings must remain closed.
Local public museums and libraries may reopen only if permitted by the local government. 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.
Counties with five or fewer cases of COVID-19 can re-open at 50% occupancy.
Gov. Abbott says, "we need to see two weeks of data to confirm no flare up of COVID-19" before moving on to Phase 2 of reopening which would be May 18.
“The deal is it’s a fact it’s hard to get rid of this virus because it is so contagious. So, we’re not just going to open up and hope for the best. Instead, we will put measures in place that will help businesses open, while also containing the virus and keeping Texan safe,” says Abbott.
Phase 2 would increase the capacity for Phase 1 businesses to 50% and look at reopening other types of businesses like gyms, hair salons, barbershops and bars.
Just over a week ago, the governor announced the formation of a Statewide Strike Force to develop a plan to gradually and safely reopen the state.
The task force is led by state leaders including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton and Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar. It also includes medical advisors, various industry leaders and business owners.
During the April 17 press conference, Gov. Abbott also announced a series of executive orders which took effect last week and allowed for the reopening of state parks for day use only, loosened restrictions on elective surgeries, and opened retail stores for to-go purchases and curbside pickup.