On April 27, Gov. Abbott outlined his next steps to continue reopening Texas businesses in a series of phases based on data and doctors' advice. Texans Helping Texans: The Governor's Report to Open Texas outlines guidance and includes a series of Open Texas Checklists that outline the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) minimum standard health protocols for all Texans. The first phase, Executive Order GA-18, allows certain businesses to open at 25% of their maximum occupancy capacity on May 1.
Open Friday, May 1:
- All retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls may reopen with limited capacity. Food-court dining areas, play areas and interactive displays and settings must remain closed within shopping malls. Face coverings are suggested but not mandated.
- All museums and libraries may reopen under the same occupancy limitations, excluding any interactive areas. State museums and libraries may reopen. Local public museums and libraries may reopen if permitted by the local government.
- Single-person offices also are allowed to reopen.
- Essential services such as farming and ranching, grocery and drug stores, banks and gas stations may continue to operate.
- Churches and places of worship may remain open.
- Outdoor sports are allowed if no more than four players are participating at one time. Certain social distancing practices must also be followed.
- Local government operations, including county and municipal government operations relating to permitting, recordation, and document-filing services, may reopen as determined by the local government.
Not permitted to open on May 1:
- Public swimming pools, bars, gyms, cosmetology salons, massage establishments, bowling alleys, video arcades and tattoo and piercing studios will remain closed through the first phase, scheduled to end May 18.
- Nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities and long-term care facilities must remain closed to visitors except to provide critical assistance.
The governor's Strike Force to Open Texas developed a report with specific guidance and recommendations to safely and strategically reopen the state. It includes a series of checklists that outline the Department of State Health Services' (DSHS) minimum health standards for all Texans.
Counties with five or fewer laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19 are allowed, on an individualized basis, to increase occupancy limits up to 50% for restaurants, retail, shopping malls, museums and libraries, and movie theaters if they meet certain criteria outlined by the governor's report. To qualify, county judges must certify and affirm to DSHS that minimum standards have been investigated, confirmed and met. More information on the minimum standards can be found on page 44 of the report.
Gov. Abbott also relaxed certain restrictions related to health care professionals and amended requirements related to hospital capacity in Executive Order GA-19. Hospitals must reserve at least 15% of their capacity for treatment of COVID-19 patients.
Additionally, the governor issued Executive Order GA-20 eliminating the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for individuals traveling from Louisiana. The order retained the quarantine period for travelers from the other listed areas.
The statewide executive orders supersede all local orders and remain in effect until at least May 18 at which time the Governor will evaluate the next steps for opening Texas. For more information on the content of this article, contact Aurora Flores.