AUSTIN, Texas – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that bars, daycares and other Texas businesses can begin reopening in the second part of his phased reopening of the state after more than two months of coronavirus closures.
Abbot said the reality is that coronavirus still exists in Texas and if the reopening process is going to succeed, people have to find ways to coexist with the virus.
He urged people to continue to practice good hand hygiene, social distancing, wearing masks and other protective measures, and recommended elderly and vulnerable Texans continue to stay home if at all possible.
Abbott also said unemployment numbers are too high and are unacceptable. However, Texas has the lowest unemployment rate compared to many other states, according to Abbott.
The best thing the state can do is to combat the rate is to continue to open up, according to Abbott. The more people continue being cautious, the more we can open and get the economy and unemployment back to a healthy level.
What’s opening in Phase 2?
Abbott announced that more businesses including bars, child care, youth camps and some professional sports will be allowed to reopen in the coming weeks.
“Texas is prepared to move into phase two for further opening up for business,” Abbott said. “Every decision I have made, as well as every decision that I will announce today is unanimously supported by our team of medical experts.”
Abbott said the main goal is to reopen Texas using data that will help move the process along while still containing the spread of COVID-19. Based on the facts and medical advice, Abbott decided to announce the next steps to reopening Texas.
Abbott that previously said that barbershops, hair salons and gyms were allowed to reopen Monday. During the news conference, Abbott added other businesses to the list that are allowed to open effective immediately.
Those businesses include:
Abbott also said businesses located inside office buildings are allowed to open “to the greater of 10 employees or 25% of the workforce, provided that the employees maintain safe social distancing.”
Abbott said restaurants can now open to a 50% capacity and listed a variety of other businesses that can open at 25% capacity, including bars, craft breweries and wine tasting rooms. The capacity limits do not apply to outdoor areas so long as people can maintain safe distancing.
Other businesses that can open include:
Abbott said that youth sports camps and programs like Little League will be able to open at the end of the month. Parents will be allowed to attend the events so long as they practice social distancing.
Other camps, activities allowed to open are:
According to Abbott, districts have the option to provide summer classes as long as they follow social distancing and other health protocols.
Classes can begin as soon as June 1, Abbott said.
Abbott said theme parks like Six Flags, Schlitterbahn and other similar businesses are not yet opening.
“We are closely looking at organizations and theme parks like that,” Abbott said. “We see what Disney is doing at a national, as well as an international level. We are monitoring the ability and strategies for parks like this to be able to open up.”
Abbott said the importance of theme parks to the tourism and entertainment businesses is vital, but officials are still working on a plan to safely reopen them while helping contain the spread of coronavirus.
As he laid out the new opening, Abbott also said that not all counties or regions will be opening at the same pace because they are facing their own set of challenges with regard to the spread of the virus.
According to Abbot, the three major hotspots for COVID-19 outbreaks are nursing homes, jails and meatpacking plants.
“The area around Amarillo is suffering the fastest growth of COVID-19 in Texas,” Abbott said. “This problem is largely the result of meatpacking plants in the area. That COVID-19 spread, as well as the challenges that it poses to the region, is something that impacts the regional healthcare system and it requires a temporary pause in the opening process."
Abbott said El Paso, Randall, Potter, Moore and Deaf Smith counties are also part of the reopening delay. Those counties are expected to begin phase two on May 29, Abbot said.
Click here to see more about the businesses allowed to reopen along with health guidelines for each.
Watch the full news conference:
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott provides an update on his plan to reopen Texas.Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Monday, May 18, 2020