On Monday, the Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, announced he'd be letting the state's stay-at-home order come to end at the conclusion of April, when it was originally set to expire. This will set into motion a multi-phase plan to reopen the state's businesses, beginning on Friday (see: May 1).
The first businesses to re-open will be: restaurants, retail stores, malls, and movie theaters. These will start to be available to the public again on Friday, but they'll only be able to operate at 25 percent capacity. Other places also set to open and adhere to the 25-percent capacity rule include museums and libraries, though they have to abide by an additional stipulation that will close hands-on exhibits.
If things work out, then the state aims to initiate a second phase as early as May 18. That would come about if Texas sees "weeks of data to confirm no flare-up of COVID-19," according to The Texas Tribune.
Phase two would see businesses being allowed to double capacities to 50 percent.
This announcement was made at a news conference taking place at the Texas Capitol. It started with Abbott justifying the end of the state's stay-at-home order by arguing that it had done "its job to slow the growth of COVID-19."
"Now it's time to set a new course, a course that responsibly opens up business in Texas," he said. "Just as we united as one state to slow COVID-19, we must also come together to begin rebuilding the lives and the livelihoods of our fellow Texans."
According to Abbott, the new order "supersedes all local orders." Additionally, he stressed that this declaration simply "gives permission" for businesses to open back up, and that it's not required. In other words, if a business opts to remain closed it can do that.
At the moment, certain industries will continue to remain shuttered. Establishments included on that list include: barbers, hair salons, gyms, and bars. Abbott stated his hope that those places can open back up my "mid-May."
The Texas Tribune reports that this latest move comes as a small but loud group of Republicans (Abbott's party) called for him to be more aggressive in restoring the state's economy. Contrasting with that, Democrats have argued the state isn't nearly prepared to get back open without fulfilling a promise to significantly increase testing.
As of the time Abbott made his announcement, the coronavirus has infected 25,297 Texans, accounting for 663 deaths. 205 of the state's 254 counties (81 percent) have confirmed cases. The Texas Department of State Health Services reports that those numbers were tallied after 290,517 tests had/have been conducted.