AUSTIN, Texas (KLTV/KTRE) - Governor Greg Abbott said personal service businesses, childcare services, and bars can re-open beginning Friday.
Abbott explained that these measures are part of Phase 2 of the plan to re-open the state’s economy and continue getting Texans back to work. He cautioned residents of the Lone Star State that the COVID-19 virus still exists and will continue to be a threat to public health until a medical discovery is made that will cure the illness and/or prevent people from getting it in the future.
“Every decision I have made, as well as every decision I will make today, is unanimously supported by our team of medical experts,” Abbott said.
Abbott said on May 31, summer camps can also open. He also said some professional sports like pro golf, auto racing, baseball, softball, and football can begin as long as in-person spectators are not allowed.
According to the governor’s website, child care centers, massage services, and youth camps and clubs like sports camps, summer camps, YMCA camps, 4H camps, and Vacation Bible School camps can re-open immediately. Also included are Boys and Girls Clubs and YMCA clubs.
On Friday, bars, bowling alleys, bingo halls, skating rinks, and zoos can open. In addition, restaurants will be able to re-open at 50-percent capacity, and bars, breweries, and wine-tasting businesses will be allowed to re-open at 25 percent of capacity.
Abbott said that the rules regarding businesses’ capacity don’t apply to outdoor areas where social distancing can be achieved.
In regard to bars and breweries, the governor’s website has a lengthy list of health protocols for those businesses. They include:
- Customers should not be permitted to loiter at the bar or in commonly trafficked areas and should remain seated at tables inside the bar.
- Service should only be provided to seated individuals.
- Parties should maintain at least six feet of distance from other parties at all times, including while waiting to be seated in the establishment or for admission to the establishment.
- Activities that enable close human contact, including but not limited to dancing, are discouraged.
- Pathways for patrons’ ingress and egress should be clear and unobstructed.
- Staff members should be designated to ensure customers maintain a 6-foot distance between parties if customers are waiting to enter the bar or similar establishment.
- A hand sanitizer station should be available upon entry to the establishment.
- No tables of more than six people will be allowed.
Summer school and college classes will be allowed to be held on campus as of June 1 if proper social distancing is maintained, Abbott said.
The governor urged Texans to continue measures like social distancing, wearing masks, sanitizing their hands, and sanitizing surfaces to prevent the further spread of the COVID-19 virus. Abbott also stressed that Texas will continue to try to protect its most vulnerable citizens - those people who are 65 years old and older and those with pre-existing health conditions.
Abbott said that the state’s numbers will continue to go up as more people are tested for the COVID-19 virus. He said that the state’s hot spots for spikes in COVID-19 cases have typically been in nursing homes, jails, and meat-packing plants. As a result, the re-opening measures listed above will be delayed a week in El Paso, Randall, Potter, Moore, and Deaf Smith counties.
Texas has been averaging 25,000 COVID-19 tests a day and health officials have been diligently doing contact tracing to try to determine who all COVID-19 patients have come in contact with, Abbott said. He added that will make sure this system protects Texans’ privacy and freedoms.
Despite the fact that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is continuing to increase, the number of people that are being hospitalized is going down. Abbott said at one point in April, 13.86 percent of the people who tested positive for the coronavirus wound up being hospitalized. As of May 17, that number had gone down to 4.97 percent.
Abbott said that the number of COVID-19-related fatalities in Texas is one of the lowest numbers in the United States. On a related note, the Lone Star State’s total of people who have recovered from the illness is one of the highest in the country.
During the question-and-answer part of the press conference, Abbott said the unemployment rate in Texas is still too high, but the hope is that as the plan to re-open Texas proceeds, more and more people will be able to get back to work and be able to feed their families.
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