Texas Governor Greg Abbott Announces Details for Phase Two of Reopening of Texas Businesses
Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Monday announced the details of Phase II to re-open Texas businesses and schools in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. The details were in tandem with another executive order issued by Abbott.
Starting Friday, May 22nd, restaurants may increase their occupancy to 50 percent (previously at 25 percent), and additional services and activities that remained closed under Phase I may open with restricted occupancy levels and minimum standard health protocols laid out by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).
As part of Monday's announcement, Governor Abbott announced that public schools in Texas have the option to provide in-person summer school starting June 1st. The public schools will have to follow social distancing practices and health protocols laid out by DSHS to open to in-person classes.
"Today, tomorrow, and every day going forward is one step closer to medical discoveries that can treat and protect people from COVID-19—but until that day comes, our focus 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," said Governor Abbott. "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."
According to Monday's Executive Order (read attached PDF), the following services and activities may open under Phase II:
- 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 Youth Camps (May 31)
- Overnight Youth Camps (May 31)
- Youth Sports (May 31)
- Certain professional sports without in-person spectators (May 31)
Governor Abbott also noted that sporting and camp activities are required to adhere to special safety standards, and minimum standard health protocols have been established for all newly-announced opened services and activities. Businesses located in office buildings may also open but must limit their occupancy to the greater of 10 employees, or 25 percent of their workforce.
A major part of Monday's announcement is that restaurants may expand their occupancy from 25 percent to 50 percent beginning Friday, May 22nd. Also on that day, bars—including wine tasting rooms, craft breweries, and similar businesses—may open at 25 percent occupancy. Like restaurants, these occupancy limits for bars do not apply to outdoor areas that maintain safe distancing among parties.
The Governor's Office also noted that services and activities which will re-open 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.
Finally, five Texas counties which are experiencing surges in COVID-19 cases will have their Phase II start date delayed until May 29th. These counties include El Paso, Randall, Potter, Moore, and Deaf Smith.