On Monday (Apr. 27), Texas Governor Gregg Abbott announced that the statewide stay at home order will expire on May 1 and that Phase 1 of reopening Texas will begin on that day.
As of Monday, there have been 25,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the state and over 660 deaths. In Southeast, Texas there are over 9,000 confirmed cases and 188 deaths.
Citing the number of recoveries as well as the steady decline in the number of new COVID-19 cases, Abbott stated that the number of recoveries will soon be greater than the number of positive cases.
“We wanted to make sure we open up as quickly as possible but as safely as possible,” he said.
Thus, once the stay at home order expires on April 30, certain businesses can begin to reopen on May 1.
Here’s Abbott’s plan starting May 1. Note, businesses opening are on a voluntary basis. Gyms, barbershops, bars hair salons and other more close proximity venues will be considered for re-opening on May 15:
- All retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls can open provided they maintain no more than 25% occupancy
- All museums and libraries can reopen at 25% occupancy but interactive exhibits must remain closed
- Sole proprietors can safely return to work
- Churches and places of worship, while allowed to stay open through this time, will be allowed to expand occupancy starting May 1
- Outdoor sports will be allowed to resume so long as no more than four participants are playing together at one time
- All licensed health care professionals can return to work
- All hospitals must reserve 15% capacity for coronavirus patients
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick echoed this sentiment.
“Wear a mask, that’s our suggestion. Not going to mandate it,” Patrick said.
In response to Abbott’s press conference, Hidalgo told KPRC2, “Harris County is the epicenter for the CVOID-19 crisis in Texas and face coverings are one of the only weapons we have to stop the spread of the virus and reopen safely. We have a face covering order today and we’ll still have a face covering order tomorrow.”
She added, “In practical terms, the governor’s order doesn’t change much because, like every order we’ve issued so far, we’d made it clear that the priority was education. The fine was there as a signal of how vital mask wearing is, and in many ways, the community got that message. It’s been disappointing to see folks politicize public health, and I hope this means they’ll go back to focusing on health and safety instead of politics. As we have in the past, we will amend this order to conform with the governor’s.”