Gillespie County getting ready to move to phase two of reopening soon

Part of Gov. Greg Abbott's most recent order allows counties with fewer than five confirmed cases of COVID-19 to move to phase two of reopening, meaning they can operate at 50 percent occupancy rather than 25 percent. 

“It looks like about half the restaurants will be open this weekend at either 25 percent or 50 percent occupancy,” said Fredericksburg City Manager Kent Myers. 

Because Fredericksburg is located in Gillespie County, which has fewer than five confirmed cases of COVID-19, the governor's order will allow restaurants and retail shops there to operate at 50 percent occupancy. Myers said that's true for wineries too. 

“They fall under the same category as restaurants and, according to the information we're getting, they'll be able to open just like the restaurants,” Myers said. 

RELATED: State stay-at-home order will expire on April 30, first phase of businesses reopening May 1

It’s still unclear whether moving into phase two will happen right away, but Myers said he believes Fredericksburg will get there within a week. 

"Has to be approved by the county judge and he has to go through different criteria and evaluate whether that's doable for our county. So he's still in the process and so, right now, we don't know if Friday, whether we'll be at 25 percent occupancy or 50 percent occupancy,” said Myers. 

There's still confusion over how to regulate occupancy and how many customers is too many. 


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“It's going to be very difficult to enforce and get full compliance because a lot of businesses don't know what their occupancy is. And so we're in an education mode right now, trying to educate the businesses on how much occupancy that they can have,” Myers said. 

Leslie Ball-Embrey, co-owner of Sozial Haus in Fredericksburg, said things will look a little different for customers who do visit the restaurant this weekend. There will be sanitation stations, employees will be wearing masks, no condiments will be left on tables, there will be throw-away utensils, and customers and tables will be spaced out. 

RELATED: Austin restaurant owners weigh costs of safely opening dining room services

"I want everybody to be safe. I want everybody to follow all of the precautions. I want everybody to take care of themselves. And that's for my staff, myself, my husband and my family, and all the people that come to see us,” Ball-Embrey said. 

Even though Gillespie County only has one confirmed case of COVID-19, and the city manager said that person has since recovered, there is still some concern that visitors from nearby counties with higher infection rates could spread the virus in Fredericksburg when restaurants begin to reopen. 

RELATED: Texas Workforce Commission works on guidelines for people heading back to work during COVID-19

One county Fredericksburg city leaders are keeping a close eye on is Mason County, which is currently reporting 15 COVID-19 cases.

“We certainly don't want to discourage those people from coming into town, but, again, it means that we have to take more precautions here locally to try to avoid any exposure to any of the positive tests that are coming in from other counties,” said Myers. 

"I pray for that community and I hope they can pull it together and keep everybody safe. And it's our back door, it's our backyard, I mean it really is, so it's a scary thing,” Ball-Embrey said. 

Under Abbott’s order, if cases do begin to increase in Gillespie County, they will have to revert back to phase one of reopening. 


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