Governor Greg Abbott announced Monday that Texas is moving to Phase ll of its reopening of a slew of businesses including bars, restaurant service to increase capacity and prosports and youth sports to return with restrictions.
“Let’s be clear, COVID-19 still exists in Texas,” said Gov. Abbott Monday from the Texas Capitol. “Our goal is to find ways to coexist with COVID-19 as safely as possible.”
Gov. Abbott said that as progress is made with medical discoveries that can treat and protect people from COVID-19, the focus now is keeping Texans safe while restoring their ability to get back to work, open their businesses, pay their bills, and put food on their tables. “By continuing to use safe practices, we are slowing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting our most vulnerable. Now more than ever, we need to work together as one Texas. I ask all Texans to continue heeding the guidance of our state and federal medical experts and do their part to protect public health. If we all unite in our resolve, we will overcome this challenge.”
During Phase I which began April 27, museums, libraries, retail stores, restaurant dine-in, barbershops, hair salons and other personal service businesses opened at various dates with limited capacity and restrictions. Monday, May 18, gyms were allowed to open with stringent guidelines. Following the Governor’s press conference Monday on Phase II, immediate openings were allowed for massage and personal care services, gyms, childcare centers and youth clubs such as Boy Scouts. Child care services are reopening immediately as more individuals are called back to work. The child care facilities may open only with reduced capacity, revised pick up and drop off, screening children for symptoms and other stringent health care restrictions in place.
Under Phase II, starting Friday, May 22, restaurants may increase their occupancy to 50% and bars, wine tasting and craft breweries may open at 25% capacity. These capacity restrictions do not apply to outdoor seating as long as social distancing is enforced, according to Abbott.
Bars will have to remove or block barstools so customers don’t order at the bar, ensure customers remain seated six feet apart from other groups and discourage activities that enable close contact like dancing. Failure to follow the guidelines may result in the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission issuing a 30-day license suspension for the first infraction and a 60-day suspension for the second.
Also opening Friday are bowling alleys, bingo parlors, simulcast racing, skating rinks, rodeos, equestrian events, natural caverns and aquariums at 25% capacity. On May 29, zoos will be able to open at 25% capacity. Starting May 31, youth day/overnight camps, youth sports and professional sports without spectators can open. Those professional sports include golf, auto racing, baseball, softball, tennis and basketball. All sporting and camp activities are required to adhere by special safety standards.
Texas schools can offer in-person summer school classes as soon as June 1, but attendance cannot be mandatory.
Large gatherings, like festivals, county fairs and theme parks are not currently allowed to open. Gov. Abbot said that he would like to see them open as quickly as possible and said that strate- gies for safe openings are being developed.
“Let’s move forward, based on data and doctors, to open Texas,” said Sen. Pete Flores. “I applaud Governor Greg Abbott’s leadership––protecting lives and preserving livelihoods. Texas is prepared: we are performing 25,000+ COVID-19 tests daily at 600+ sites across the state and capacity of Texas hospitals remain ready for any possible surge. The actual number of patients hospitalized from COVID 19 over the last 30 days remains stable, hovering between 1,400 to 1,800 on any given day, and the percent of patients testing positive from the virus has dropped from 13.8% to under 5% in the same time frame.
“Every day we grow one day closer to crucial COVID-19 medical discoveries–– until then, I encourage all Texans to continue practicing social distancing, washing hands often, and avoiding personal contact with sick individuals and those 65 years or older. It’s time to get out there and support local Texas businesses.”
Hospitalization and Positivity Rates
Gov. Abbott stated that the downward trends in the rate of hospitalization and positive cases are some of the most important metrics he is assessing to determine reopening Texas. Monday, Gov. Abbott went over slides that showed the state’s daily COVID-19 hospitalizations over time and the seven-day rolling average of positive cases. (See slides.)
Gov. Abbott urged Texans to please read and study the Open Texas guidelines and checklist that outline safety protocols for businesses, customers and the general public. Opened services and activities under Phase II are subject to certain occupancy limits and health and safety protocols. For details and a full list of guidelines, openings, and relevant dates, visit www.gov.texas.gov/opentexas.
“We are getting through this. But now more than ever, we need to work together as one Texas,” Abbott said. “As we move into Phase ll, be a good neighbor. Be a Texan.”
Via Executive Order, the following services and activities may open under Phase II.
• Gyms (May 18)
• Child Care Centers (May 18)
• Massage and Personal- Care Centers (May 18)
• Youth Clubs (May 18)
• Rodeo and Equestrian Events (May 22)
• Bowling Alleys, Bingo Halls, Simulcast Racing, and Skating Rinks (May 22)
• Bars (May 22)
• Aquariums and Natural Caverns (May 22)
• Zoos (May 29)
• Day/Overnight Youth Camps (May 31)
• Youth Sports (May 31)
• Certain professional sports without in-person spectators (May 31)
• Summer School (June 1)