Texas Governor Greg Abbott revealed his plan to open Texas on Monday, saying that “Phase 1” would begin on Friday with the opening of all retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and malls.
However, businesses must limit the occupancy of their buildings to 25 percent of the maximum capacity.
Abbott issued his first statewide order (GA-08) that limited social gatherings of ten or more and closed many businesses on March 19 with a set expiration of April 3.
On March 31, Abbott issued another, stricter stay-at-home order (GA-14) that extended his previous one and placed new limits on Texans.
GA-14 expires on Friday, April 30, and Abbott stated he would not extend it.
In its place, Abbott has issued several executive orders under the Phase 1 reopening plan.
“Phase 2” of the governor’s reopening plan will not commence until two weeks of data show no “flare-ups” in confirmed coronavirus cases.
Abbott clarified that this does not necessarily mean a decrease in confirmed cases, since testing is also being increased.
Instead, his administration will be looking at other key indicators, such as hospitalizations or a notable increase in particular areas of the state, like the panhandle.
Under Phase 1, churches and houses of worship will be able to continue to hold services, but must follow social distancing guidelines.
Museums and libraries may also open with the 25 percent occupancy limitation, but “interactive areas of museums must remain closed.”
Some outdoor sports, such as tennis and golf, are being allowed at this time, but must be limited to four participants.
All licensed healthcare providers (e.g. doctors, nurses, and dentists) will be allowed to return to work with fewer restrictions.
Counties with fewer than five confirmed coronavirus cases may be allowed to increase occupancy of businesses to 50 percent during the first phase of reopening.
Under the new orders, Abbott said that no local jurisdiction could impose a penalty for people not wearing face masks.
Phase 1 of the plan does not include “public swimming pools, bars, gyms, cosmetology salons, massage establishments, interactive amusement venues, such as bowling alleys and video arcades, and tattoo and piercing studios.”
Further, “nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities, and long-term care facilities must remain closed to visitors unless to provide critical assistance.”
The governor’s report to open Texas can be found here.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, there are currently 13,464 active coronavirus cases in the state, with 1,563 hospitalizations and an available bed capacity of 20,277 for coronavirus patients.
Although the total number of cases has increased at a steady rate since Easter, the amount of testing has also increased and the average percent of positive tests has declined.
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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.