AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Governor Greg Abbott announced plans Monday afternoon to reopen businesses in Texas since according to Abbott, “[The] executive order has done its job to slow the growth of COVID-19.”
Gov. Abbott said the stay at home order set to expire on April 30 will be allowed to expire.
He said based on advice from health experts, Texas businesses will be reopened in phases beginning Friday, May 1.
Under Gov. Abbott’s new executive order all retail stores, restaurants, malls and theaters can reopen on Friday, but at 25% capacity.
“We wanted to make sure that we were able to open up as quickly as possible, but as safely as possible. These are decisions that are the result of tremendous input by the best possible medical team,” Gov. Abbott said.
Texans 65 years old and older should still stay home for now.
Barber shops, hairdressers and gyms will not be able to reopen on Friday. They could open in Phase 2.
Phase 2 could begin as early as May 18. That would also expand occupancy to 50%.
“We need to see two weeks of data to confirm no flare up of COVID-19,” Gov. Abbott said.
Gov Abbott pointed out, this order allows businesses to reopen. No business is forced to reopen.
He said social distancing will remain very important.
“Because of your efforts, the COVID-19 rate has been on the decline for 17 days,” said Gov. Abbott to the people of Texas. “Our hospital capacity has remained abundant. At the same time we cannot forget those who have lost their lives to COVID-19. Our hearts remain with their loved ones. Every life lost is a tragedy.”
Gov. Abbott said Texas has the third most recoveries of COVID-19 in the country and said the number of people recovering from COVID-19 will soon exceed the number of active cases in the state.
“Many have lost jobs, many have lost businesses. Many are struggling to pay their bills, I want Texans to know, they are not alone in this fight. We must come together to rebuild the lives and livelihoods of Texans.”
Governor Abbott said he sent Dr. Deborah Birx (at the White House) the Texas plan to reopen. According to the Governor, Dr. Birx said it was a great plan.
Gov. Abbott said, “We are Texans. We got this.”
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“This has been an incredible team effort,” said Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick during the news conference. “We are in this position quite frankly better than any other state in the country.”
Lt. Gov. Patrick, who recently said on Fox News, There are more important things than living,” while discussing the need to reopen the economy, urged Texans to wear a mask. It’s not mandatory, but they should do it, he said.
Texas counties requiring them can’t issue fines against those who don’t comply.
Lt. Gov. Patrick urged businesses to make themselves safe for their customers.
“The most important part of this team moving forward is you, the people of Texas.”
Gov. Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton also issued updated guidance regarding religious services conducted by congregations and houses of worship.
It recommends health protocols for houses of worship to guard the health and safety of their attendees while serving their respective communities of faith.
“Houses of worship face particular challenges as Texans work to combat this pandemic. This updated guidance provides clear direction to protect the health and safety of faith groups as they plan for future religious gatherings,” said Attorney General Paxton. “All Texans must continue to work together to care for the health and safety of our neighbors as we work to reopen the state.”
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins released the following statement Monday night on Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan to reopen segments of the Texas economy:
“The first priority of those you elect is to keep you safe. I’ve asked Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Dr. Philip Huang and physician leaders, including those specializing in infectious disease and epidemiology from area hospitals, to carefully review the Governor’s orders and will wait to hear from them. Most other plans that open businesses in phases don’t put places like movie theaters in the first group to open. The orders have changed but the science that will keep us safe has not. I believe North Texans will focus not on “what can they do” but rather “what should they do”. It will be imperative for North Texans to make good choices particularly where these orders veer from the advice of public health experts. Following science is the best way to keep safe and open the economy.”
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson also released a statement:
“The governor has made a decision and, under Texas law, he has the final say in these matters, so now it is incumbent upon all Texans to ensure that this plan is successful. Dallas residents and local leaders have worked hard to flatten the curve of COVID-19’s spread, and we must continue our commitment to social distancing practices, good hygiene, protecting our vulnerable populations, and doing all we can to increase testing and contact tracing.”