Texas to start reopening

by | Apr 28, 2020 | Latest

A phased reopening of Texas to business while minimizing the spread of COVID-19 was announced Tuesday, April 28, by Gov. Greg Abbott.

Phase I, which goes into effect Friday, allows certain services and activities to open with limited occupancy, following minimum standard health protocols issued by Texas Department of Health Services.

The governor’s announcement is accompanied by “Texans Helping Texans: The Governor’s Report to Open Texas,” available online at gov.texas.gov/opentexas.

“This strategic approach to opening the state of Texas prioritizes the health and safety of our communities and follows the guidelines laid out by our team of medical experts,” Abbott said. “Now more than ever, Texans must remain committed to safe distancing practices that reduce the spread of COVID-19, and we must continue to rely on doctors and data to provide us with the safest strategies to restore Texans’ livelihoods.”

The governor outlined special guidance for Texans over 65 and detailed a comprehensive mitigation plan for nursing homes in Texas. He also announced a statewide testing and tracing program developed by DSHS that will help public health officials quickly identify and test Texans who contract COVID-19 and mitigate further spread of the virus. 

By way of Executive Order (GA-18), all retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and malls are permitted to reopen on Friday, May 1. These services must limit their capacity to 25 percent of their listed occupancy. In shopping malls, the food-court dining areas, play areas, and interactive displays and settings must remain closed.

All museums and libraries may open under the same 25 percent occupancy limitation, but interactive areas of museums must remain closed. State libraries and museums will open by May 1, and local public museums and libraries may reopen only if permitted by the local government. Single-person offices may reopen as well.

Churches and places of worship remain open. Outdoor sports are allowed to resume so long as no more than four participants are playing together at one time. Certain social distancing practices must also be followed.

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.

Essential services such as farmers and ranchers, grocery and drug stores, banks, and gas stations will continue to operate.

Public swimming pools, bars, gyms, cosmetology salons, massage establishments, interactive amusement venues, such as bowling alleys and video arcades, and tattoo and piercing studios will remain closed through Phase I but may begin a reopening in mid May if conditions allow.

Nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities, and long-term care facilities must remain closed to visitors unless to provide critical assistance.

Businesses in counties in which five or fewer COVID-19 cases have been confirmed can increase occupancy to 50 percent on reopening.

Phase I starts Friday May 1 and continues until at least May 18, at which time it will be evaluated.

Certain restrictions related to health care professionals were relaxed to allow access to non-emergency services.

From Staff Reports • [email protected]

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