BRYAN, Texas — Governor Abbott's shelter in place order expires on April 30, 2020, and on Monday, he announced a multi-phase plan to reopen businesses around the state.
After more than a month of social distancing guidelines, the governor wants Texans actively participating in the economy, while containing the spread of COVID-19 and preventing a second wave.
“Opening Texas must occur in phases. Obviously, not all businesses can open all at once. A more strategic approach is required to ensure that we don’t reopen only to have to close down again,” he said.
Phase one starts on May 1, 2020, and if things go well, phase two can begin as early as May 18th.
Gov. Abbott said, “Phase ii will open more businesses and allow the businesses open in phase I to expand their operations. We need to see two weeks of data to confirm no flare up of COVID-19.”
During phase one, the governor still wants Texans to practice social distancing and double efforts to protect senior citizens to "reduce COVID-19 deaths while also expanding business operations.”
So what do those expanded operations look like?
Starting May 1, 2020, retail, restaurants, movie theaters, malls, museums and libraries can open back up at 25 percent capacity.
That is, they feel safe and want to do so.
All licensed healthcare professionals, meaning doctors and dentists can go back to work with few restrictions. Churches can expand capacity but practice social distancing.
Plus, no more than four people can play a sport together, and if phase one works, the governor said, “phase two will expand that occupancy to 50 percent. Further increases will be allowed in the future, so long as COVID-19 remains contained.”
This order supersedes all local orders and smaller counties with five or fewer cases can have a little more leeway. They’re able to open back up at 50 percent during phase one.
As things open back up, contact tracing has been and will keep expanding to box in the spread of COVID-19.
“It is entrepreneurs who drive the Texas economy," Gov. Abbot said, "They need to be unleashed to restore livelihoods while all of us remain focused on protecting the lives of our fellow Texans. We are Texans we got this.”
There are still some businesses that are not allowed to reopen, including barbershops, salons, gyms and bars.
The governor said medical experts advised that it's not safe for those to open yet, but he hopes they can reopen mid-May.
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