A statewide stay-at-home order is set to expire on Thursday, and some businesses in Texas may begin opening as soon as this Friday, May 1, albeit under heavy restrictions.
In a press conference Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott unveiled his strike force’s plan to reopen Texas after restrictions put in place to curb the Chinese coronavirus have all but shut down businesses across the state. The governor announced the first phase of the plan will allow movie theaters, restaurants, museums, and retail stores to open up once again on Friday.
It will be far from a return to normal, however.
Those businesses allowed to reopen must adhere to strict guidelines laid out by the task force, the most notable of which is a 25 percent occupancy limit.
“My executive order to stay at home … is set to expire on April 30,” Abbott said, adding that he will let it expire as scheduled.
Vulnerable populations, including senior citizens and those with pre-existing conditions, are advised to continue staying at home.
“The lives saved have been priceless, but the price paid has been steep,” said Abbott.
However, he noted that all businesses will not be able to open at once.
Phase two of the plan will involve raising the occupancy of those businesses to 50 percent, as well as beginning to allow bars, barbershops, salons, and gyms to reopen their doors.
“My hope is that they will open on or no later than mid-May,” Abbott said, setting May 18 as a target date for the second phase of reopening Texas. That will depend on the trajectory of cases in the state between now and then.
Additionally, rural counties that have had less than five confirmed cases of the Chinese coronavirus may accelerate their reopening process, allowing 50 percent capacity at restaurants, movie theaters, and other retailers as soon as Friday, May 1.