AUSTIN, Texas - Governor Greg Abbott has announced the next steps he's taking in reopening the Texas economy and get Texans back to work.
The governor says the stay-at-home order that he issued that is set to expire on April 30 will be allowed to expire. The following day, on May 1, the first phase begins in which retail stores, malls, movie theaters and restaurants will be allowed to reopen but occupancy can be no more than 25%.
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The second phase could possibly begin as early as May 18 and at that point, occupancy would increase to 50%. The governor says the timing of the second phase will depend on two weeks of data to confirm that there have been on flareups of COVID-19 cases.
Gov. Abbott reiterated that businesses are not required to reopen. All museums and libraries can reopen under the first phase but interactive exhibits must remain closed. Churches and places of worship are allowed to expand capacity as well.
All businesses will still need to adhere to social distancing practices. The governor says that it is important that during the first phase that vulnerable populations still remain at home and that businesses help limit their exposure.
Outdoor sports will be allowed as well under the first phase but with only four participants and safe distancing must be followed.
Licensed healthcare professionals can return to work as well with a few restrictions.
Gov. Abbott notes that different standards could apply to smaller counties that have five or fewer COVID-19 cases but that they still must adhere to social distancing guidelines and businesses may be able to expand to 50% occupancy right away.
Businesses that will not be allowed to reopen include bars, gyms, nail, and hair salons. The governor says they are working to open these as soon as possible but it is expected to be around mid-May.
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