As phase 1 of Abbott’s “Open Texas” plan begins, he said that restaurants, malls, retail stores and movie theaters can reopen on Friday. However, they are limited to 25% capacity. Churches can open their doors as well and have very specific restrictions regarding distance and seating protocols. (Click here for details) Phase 2 (scheduled for May 18th), will allow capacity to increase to 50% if areas don’t see an uptick in COVID-19 activity for a period of 14-days.
Gov. Abbott said that not all businesses can open at once. Bars, salons, gyms and barbershops are still ordered to remain closed for the time being. He indicated that he hoped they would be able to resume operations sometime in mid May.
Museums and libraries are allowed to open on Friday as well, and are also held to the 25% capacity limit. However, interactive stations and interactive exhibits must remain closed for now.
Outdoor sports can open up again, including golf and tennis. However, it is limited to no more than four participants and they must be able to maintain social distancing.
The governor is also allowing all licensed physicians to return to work, as long as hospital bed availability for COVID-19 patients is at 50%.
Summer Camps remain “up in the air” for now.
The new executive order does not require businesses to open. It allows them to open if they feel it is safe. He also noted that his order strongly suggests that everyone wear a face mask. However, it is not a requirement. He went on to clarify that his executive order supersedes the Harris county mandate that went into place today which requires that everyone wear a face mask in public or risk being subject to a $1,000 fine for not compliance.
The state has published a guide, Open Texas, which outlines how businesses can open safely with standards for how to handle employees and customers.
Governor Abbott finished his conference by outlining the four (4) factors that must be followed as we open Texas for business:
- Stay a safe distance from each other
- Use medical data to monitor success
- Focus on protecting the vulnerable
- Remembering, small business drives the state