HOUSTON - Texas is moving into Phase 2 of reopening businesses that were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic with more services and activities allowed to resume on Friday.
Governor Greg Abbott announced Phase 2 on Monday along with guidelines businesses that choose to reopen must follow.
Abbott said all of his openings were unanimously supported by his panel of experts that he is consulting on how to handle COVID-19 and businesses.
Abbott cited improved numbers in hospitalizations and in the positivity rate in opening more parts of the economy.
What’s opening Friday, May 22?
Bars, aquariums, natural caverns, rodeo and equestrian events, bowling alleys, bingo halls, simulcast racing and skating rinks can open on May 22.
Restaurants, which were allowed to open dining rooms on May 1 at 25% capacity, can now open at 50% capacity on Friday.
There are capacity restrictions and health guidelines that businesses must follow if they choose to reopen.
Certain counties experiencing surges in COVID-19 cases will have their beginning date of Phase II delayed until May 29. These counties include El Paso, Randall, Potter, Moore, and Deaf Smith.
Effective May 22, 2020, bars or similar establishments may operate for in-person service up to 25% of the total listed occupancy inside the bar or similar establishment, and may not offer valet services except for vehicles with placards or plates for disabled parking; there is no occupancy limit outdoors at a bar or similar establishment; and bar or similar establishment employees are not counted towards the occupancy limitation. For these purposes, bars or similar establishments are establishments with a permit from TABC that are not otherwise considered restaurants. Any components of the bar or similar establishment that has interactive functions or exhibits, including child play areas, interactive games, and video arcades, must remain closed. Interactive amusement venues, such as video arcades, amusement parks, or water parks, remain closed. See the full list for businesses and customers.
Bowling Alleys, Bingo Halls, Simulcasting, Skating Rinks
Effective May 22, 2020, bowling alleys, bingo halls, simulcasting, and skating rinks may operate up to 25% of their total listed occupancy. Bowling alleys must ensure at least 6 feet social distancing between operating bowling lanes, bingo halls must ensure at least 6 feet social distancing between customers playing bingo, and facilities which are simulcasting must ensure their patrons are engaging in at least 6 feet social distancing. Any components of the establishments or facilities that have interactive functions or exhibits, including child play areas, interactive games, and video arcades, must remain closed. See the full checklist for businesses and customers.
Driver Licenses Offices
Effective May 22, 2020, the first phase of appointments at driver's license offices become available in the northwest and west Texas regions. Residents can in south and central Texas can start scheduling appointments on May 26 as part of phase two. Phase three will allow north and southeast Texas residents to start scheduling appointments on May 29.
Phase 1: Northwest and West Texas regions will reopen with limited services beginning May 26, 2020. Customers can begin scheduling appointments in these two regions on May 22 at 1 p.m.
Phase 2: Offices in DPS’ South and Central Texas regions will reopen with limited services beginning May 29, 2020. Customers can begin scheduling appointments in these two regions on May 26 at 1 p.m.
Phase 3: Offices in DPS’ North and Southeast Texas regions will reopen with limited services beginning June 3, 2020. Customers can begin scheduling appointments in these two regions on May 29 at 1 p.m.
Phase 4: will allow customers to schedule an appointment for all DL office transactions anywhere in the state and is expected to begin midsummer. DPS will announce details on this phase at a later date.
Rodeo / Equestrian Events
Effective May 22, 2020, individuals may engage in, and sponsors may put on, rodeos and equestrian events. Spectators are allowed, provided that indoor venues limit the number of spectators to no more than 25% of the total listed occupancy of the venue, and outdoor venues may operate at up to 25% of the normal operating limits as determined by the facility owner. Six feet of separation between individuals not within the same household should be maintained to the extent feasible. To the extent the rodeo or equestrian event has spectators, the person sponsoring the event must ensure that ingress and egress from the venue allows for 6 feet of social distancing between individuals on entering and exiting the venue. Larger gatherings that include a rodeo or equestrian event, such as a county fair, are not authorized at time. See the full checklist.
Aquariums, Natural Caverns
Effective May 22, 2020, aquariums, natural caverns, and similar facilities, may operate up to 25% of the total listed occupancy, and must close any components of the aquarium, natural cavern, or similar facility that have interactive functions or exhibits, including child play areas, amusement and video game areas. Local aquariums, natural caverns, and similar facilities may operate only if permitted by the local government. See the full checklist for businesses and customers.
What should I know before going out?
The state has outlined minimum recommended health protocols for customers. These minimum health protocols are not a limit on the health protocols that individuals may adopt, and people are encouraged to adopt additional protocols consistent with their specific needs and circumstances to help protect the health and safety of all Texans.
The virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to others by infected persons who have few or no symptoms.
Recommended health protocols:
- Individuals aged 65 or older are at a higher risk of COVID-19. To the extent possible, avoid being within 6 feet with individuals aged 65 and older. Individuals aged 65 and older should stay at home
as much as possible.
- Individuals should avoid being in a group larger than 10 individuals. Within these groups, individuals should, to the extent possible, minimize in-person contact with others not in the individual’s household. Minimizing in-person contact includes maintaining 6 feet of separation from individuals. When maintaining 6 feet of separation is not feasible, other methods should be utilized to slow the spread of COVID-19, such as wearing a face covering or mask, washing or sanitizing hand frequently, and avoiding sharing utensils or other common objects.
- Self-screen for symptoms of possible COVID-19 before going out: cough, difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, diarrhea, feeling feverish or a measured temperature greater than or equal to 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit, known close contact with someone who is lab-confirmed to have COVID-19.
- Wash or disinfect hands upon entering the facility and after any interaction with employees, other customers, or items in the facility.
- Consistent with the actions taken by many individuals across the state, consider wearing cloth face coverings (over the nose and mouth) when entering the facility, or when within 6 feet of another person who is not a member of the individual’s group. If available, individuals should consider wearing nonmedical grade face masks.
- Carry hand sanitizer, and use it regularly while at the facility, especially after contact with individuals outside the household.
What else is open?
Throughout May, Governor Abbott has allowed various businesses to open with capacity restrictions and safety guidelines in place.
Here's what reopened in Texas on May 1:
• Retail Stores
• Movie Theaters
• Places of Worship
• Single-Person Offices
• Public Museums
• Public Libraries
Occupancy was limited to 25% and social distancing practices must be followed.
Food-court dining areas, play areas, and interactive displays and settings must remain closed.
Outdoor sports were allowed to resume so long as no more than four participants are playing together at one time.
Also, counties with five or fewer cases of COVID-19 were allowed to re-open at 50% occupancy.
Here's what reopened in Texas on May 8:
• Barber Shops
• Cosmetology / Hair Salons
• Nail Salons / Shops
• Tanning Salons
These businesses opened under certain health and safety guidelines.
According to Abbott's order, only one customer is allowed per stylist. People can only wait inside if they maintain social distancing and appointment scheduling is encouraged to avoid walk-ins congregating. Stylists and customers are encouraged to wear masks, Abbott said.
Here's what reopened in Texas on May 18:
• Gyms / Exercise Facilities
• Non-Essential Manufacturers
• Massage and personal-care, beauty services
• Child Care Centers
• Youth Clubs
Gyms and exercise facilities and classes may operate up to 25% of the total listed occupancy of the gym or exercise facility. Locker rooms and shower facilities must remain closed, but restrooms may be open. Employees and contractors of the gym or exercise facility are not counted towards the 25% occupancy limitation.
Non-essential manufacturing facilities may operate up to 25% of the facility’s total listed occupancy.
Offices may operate with up to the greater of 5 individuals or 25% of the total office workforce, provided people maintain appropriate social distancing.
Youth club meetings held indoors should not exceed more than 10 individuals at any time, provided 6 feet of distance between individuals is maintained; staggering meetings to comply with the 10 individual limit is encouraged.
Zoos may operate up to 25% of the total listed occupancy (or 25 percent of the normal operating limits as determined by the zoo owner), and must close any components of the zoo that have interactive functions or exhibits, including child play areas, amusement and video game areas. Indoor areas of zoos, other than restrooms, must remain closed. Local public zoos may operate only if permitted by the local government. Read the full checklist for zoos and customers.
Day youth camps and overnight youth camps will be allowed to resume with health protocols place. Read the full guidelines.
Youth sports may begin holding practices without spectators other than one parent or guardian per participant, as needed. Those sports may begin holding games or similar competitions, with or without spectators, on or after June 15, 2020. Spectators should maintain at least six feet social distancing from individuals not within the spectator’s group. Read the full guidelines for youth sports operators and families.
Professional basketball, baseball, car racing, football, golf, softball, and tennis leagues may apply to the Department of State Health Services for approval to hold professional sporting events in Texas. These events may take place on or after May 31, 2020. The professional sporting events may not have spectators physically present on the premises. Each league must submit, along with a request for approval in the manner prescribed by the Department of State Health Services, a plan that incorporates applicable minimum standard health protocols recommended by the Department of State Health Services and such additional measures as are needed to ensure a safe plan for conducting the events. The Department of State Health Services, in consultation with the Office of the Governor and any recommendations by the advisory Strike Force to Open Texas, will review the applications.
Governor Abbott announced that public schools in Texas have the option to provide in-person summer school so long as they follow social distancing practices and health protocols laid out by DSHS. These classes may begin as soon as June 1.