More businesses open as state loosens restrictions

More businesses open as state loosens restrictions
Last week, Governor Greg Abbott announced phase two of the state’s reopening plan and allowed more businesses and activities to resume operations.
Certain businesses and activities were able to reopen immediately when the governor made the announcement Monday, May 18, while others were allowed to open last Friday, and more restrictions will be loosened Sunday, May 31.
In preparation for the reopenings, the governor said that childcare facilities could reopen immediately.
Also reopened immediately by the governor were massage establishments and personal care and beauty services not already opened, including (but not limited to) electrolysis, waxing, tattoos, piercings and hair loss treatment and growth services.
Youth clubs were also allowed to resume meeting by the governor immediately with social distancing in place.
Abbott said that meetings held indoors should not exceed more than 10 individuals at any time, and staggering meetings to comply with the 10 individual limit is encouraged.
Last Friday, restaurants were allowed to increase their dining room capacity to 50%, up from the previous allowance of 25% capacity.
Bars were also allowed to reopen Friday, but they can only operate at 25% capacity. The limits do not apply to the outside areas of bars and restaurants, as long as social distancing is implemented.
Restrictions were also lifted on a range of other businesses Friday, including bowling alleys, bingo halls, skating rinks, rodeos, zoos and aquariums.
The governor will allow professional sports to resume in the state effective May 31 without in-person spectators, and youth sports practices can also resume.
Effective May 31, youth sports may begin holding practices without spectators other than one parent or guardian per participant, as needed.
Youth sports may begin holding games, with or without spectators, on June 15. The governor said that spectators should maintain at least six feet of social distancing from individuals not within the same group.
Day and overnight youth camps can resume May 31, and schools can choose to provide summer school with safety precautions and social distancing in place as early as June 1.
A complete list of permitted openings and guidance for businesses and customers can be found on at gov.texas.gov/opentexas.
In announcing the openings, Abbott said that every day going forward is one day closer to medical discoveries that will help treat and protect against COVID-19. Acknowledging that the threat is still real, the governor encouraged Texans to continue safe practices, such as social distancing, wearing masks and sanitizing hands.
“Our goal is to find ways to coexist with COVID-19 as safely as possible,” the governor said.
Abbott pointed out that Texans who are the most vulnerable to the illness—those over 65 years of age—should still consider staying at home if at all possible.
While the case numbers continue to rise, the governor listed other key metrics that the state is using to determine the severity of the pandemic in the state.
Abbott said that the state has seen a downward trajectory in the percentage of people who test positive out of all tests performed, and the state currently has enough hospital capacity and personal protective equipment as the numbers increase.
The governor pointed out that the state will respond to any hot spots with its surge response team as cases of COVID-19 are reported. Most of the areas that have seen sudden increases in cases in the state have fallen into three categories: nursing homes, jails and meat packing plants, he said.
Currently, the Amarillo and El Paso areas have been identified as hot spots, and the opening dates for those areas will be moved back one week to allow the state to respond to the outbreaks and ensure hospital capacity is adequate.
After the governor’s announcement, Hill County Judge Justin Lewis said that Hill County is well positioned to keep moving forward. “However, we do control our own destiny by how well we manage ourselves and our operation,” Lewis said. “Let’s enjoy integrating back into our day-to-day activities, but let’s do it in a careful and responsible manner.”
As of Sunday, May 24, the Department of State Health Services was showing 24 cases of COVID-19 reported in Hill County with 12 of those active cases and one fatality. Lewis said last week that the latest two Hill County cases involve a man and woman in the Aquilla area.
Bosque County had six cases with four active as of Sunday.
Statewide as of Sunday, there had been 55,348 cases confirmed in Teas, with 33,385 estimated to be recovered, 22,558 active and 1,519 fatalities.