Gov. Greg Abbott to allow Texas hair salons to reopen Friday and gyms to open May 18

The San Marcos Barber Shop and other Texas salons can reopen Friday as long as hairstylists work with only one customer at a time and customers maintain a 6-foot distance from one another. Eddie Gaspar/The Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott will allow hair salons in Texas to reopen Friday — and gyms will be allowed to open May 18.

The businesses will be required to follow certain rules, however, as the state continues to grapple with the coronavirus. Hairstylists will be able to work with only one customer at a time. People waiting in barber shops will have to maintain 6-foot separation or wait outside.

Meanwhile, gyms will be required to operate at a maximum of 25% of capacity. Showers and locker rooms will be closed, and equipment must be disinfected after each use.

Abbott acknowledged people may want to see another type of business reopen — bars — but said the state is still figuring out how they can do so safely and did not offer a timetable.

Abbott made the announcement at a press conference Tuesday. It came less than a week after he began what he has described as the first phase of business reopenings in the state — allowing restaurants, retail stores, libraries and museums to open if they limited crowds to 25% of capacity. Since he announced those the initial business reopenings last week, Abbott has faced increasing pressure from some in his own party to also give the green light to barbershops and gyms. Earlier Tuesday, two Republican state representatives defied Abbott's wishes by getting haircuts at a Houston-area salon.

Tuesday's press conference came as the number of coronavirus cases in Texas increased to at least 33,369, including 906 deaths, according to the latest numbers from the Texas Department of State Health Services. The virus is present in 216 out of the state's 254 counties.

The total number of tests conducted in Texas is 427,210, the DSHS figures show.

This developing story will be updated soon.