At a press conference today, Governor Greg Abbott announced that all cosmetology services, including barbershops and hair salons, would be allowed to open beginning on Friday, but would be required to follow certain social distancing and hygiene practices.
Abbott stated the following practices were required or recommended:
- “One customer per stylist, unless the individual is waiting for service.”
- Customers waiting for service must be able to maintain a social distance of six feet.
- Using an appointment system only is strongly recommended, but if walk-in customers are allowed, they must maintain the distancing guidelines or wait outside or in their vehicles.
- Customers and stylists should wear face coverings.
The governor stressed that the revised order would only make opening such businesses optional and would not force a business-owner who doesn’t feel safe opening to return to work.
Abbott also said that gyms and non-essential manufacturing businesses would be able to reopen on May 18, provided that they follow certain protocols as well.
When gyms are allowed to open, they must limit the capacity of indoor gym facilities to 25 percent, disinfect all equipment after each use, and keep showers and locker rooms closed.
Gym-goers will be required to wear gloves that cover the entire hand, and they must sanitize any personal equipment they bring with them before and after their visit.
Regarding the continued closure of bars, Abbott said that they are “still working on safe ways to establish safe distancing” before allowing their reopening.
Abbott stated that while similar measures could be taken at bars as at restaurants, the “very nature” of bars is that “it brings people close together in a closed space in a setting that really is the type of setting that promotes the transmission of infectious diseases.”
“[J]ust as we showed that we could work very rapidly with regard to responding to hair salons and barbershops, we want to hear from bars about the types of strategies that [they] can use,” said Abbott, noting that “not all bars are the same.”
On May 18, Abbott said that manufacturers who had been deemed “non-essential” will be allowed to reopen at 25 percent capacity.
He said the delay in reopening was because they found that “in our discussions with these manufacturers, they can’t just turn it on, on a day’s notice. It takes days in order for them to […] get the facilities safe enough.”
Abbott also clarified his order that he issued last week, saying that funeral, burial, and wedding ceremonies are allowed to take place, but should follow the same social distancing guidelines as religious services.
Wedding receptions should follow the same guidelines as restaurants.
Another clarification made was that while the interior of restaurants are limited to 25 percent capacity, outdoor seating has no capacity limit as long as tables are six feet apart.
At the press conference, education Commissioner Mike Morath said that the Texas Education Agency was releasing guidance on graduations.
The governor said that “surge response teams” led by various executive officials would respond to any “flare-ups” of coronavirus cases in certain areas or types of facilities to help them cope with any outbreaks.
When a reporter asked Abbott if his plan to reopen was going against the advice of “medical experts,” Abbott asked what “experts” they had spoken with before listing off the medical professionals who had approved of his plan, including Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.