Governor Greg Abbott laid out his plan to reopen Texas in phases at his press conference Monday afternoon in Austin. He announced that his “Stay at Home” order will be allowed to expire on April 30. Phase one of the plan to reopen Texas begins May 1 and includes opening retail, restaurants, movie theaters, museums and libraries at 25% of their posted capacity. This supersedes all local ordinances.
Profession medical offices (doctors, dentists, nurses) will be allowed to reopen with some restrictions. The medical professionals advising the Governor recommended keeping barbershops, salons, bars and gyms closed during phase 1. Summer camp rules of operation are still being reviewed, and, for now, they remain closed.
He emphasized that permitted establishments may open, but no one is required to open. If you are not comfortable opening yet, you certainly may remain closed.
The Governor said that Texas has had a decline in COVID-19 cases for the last 17 days. Hospital capacity is adequate. Hospitalizations remain stable. Soon, those cured of the virus will exceed active cases.
He said this plan is data-driven and has been reviewed by Dr. Deborah Birx, a leading member of the Trump Administration’s Coronavirus Taskforce, who said it was sound. Data will be collected, and if there is not a spike in cases, the state will move to Phase 2 on May 18.
Phase 2 will allow businesses opened in phase 1 to increase to 50% capacity. Churches will be allowed more flexibility, and outdoor sports will be allowed with no more than four participants (golf and tennis for example).
Testing and tracing protocols are expanding throughout the state. By mid-May, the Governor expects to have 4,000 tracing professionals working at four call centers. Those who test positive will provide their recent contacts. Those who are identified as having been in contact with a person who tested positive will be put in voluntary quarantine for 14 days and then tested themselves.
The Governor emphasized the need to protect our most vulnerable population, those 65 and older. He encouraged our older citizens to continue to stay isolated as much as possible and encouraged retail establishments to provide special accommodations to help protect them. He is not releasing restrictions on nursing homes and other senior residential communities.
Gov. Abbott said, “We are Texans. We got this.”
The Governor said the details of the plan are contained in a book available to be downloaded at gov.texas.gov/opentexas or CLICK HERE.