AUSTIN, Texas — On Monday, April 27, Gov. Greg Abbott discussed more on his plan to reopen more businesses in Texas safely amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the press conference, the governor announced the stay-at-home executive order will expire on April 30 and will not be renewed at this time. Gov. Abbott also announced the opening of several types of businesses that will be able to re-open on May 1.
Gov. Abbott said the next step is to safely open up as many businesses as possible. He said it is not possible to reopen everything all at once in order to prevent a second, stronger wave of the virus.
Gov. Abbott said measures will be put into place that will help open Texas while containing the virus.
Phase one of the re-opening of Texas businesses is scheduled to begin May 1, and Gov. Abbott said if the virus remains contained, phase two could begin by May 18.
Gov. Abbott said phase two will allow even more businesses to reopen and expand the capabilities of phase one businesses.
Before phase two begins, Gov. Abbott said there must be two weeks of data showing that the virus is continuing to be contained.
Gov. Abbott said phase one emphasizes the protection of vulnerable populations and aims to allow them to stay at home.
Gov. Abbott announced that all retail stores, restaurants, movies and malls will be able to reopen on May 1, but will be required to maintain only up to 25% occupancy. Additionally, museums and libraries will be able to reopen, given they follow the 25% occupancy rules and do not reopen interactive features.
Gov. Abbott emphasized that this only allows businesses to reopen, not requires them to.
Additionally, Gov. Abbott has allowed outdoor sports like golf and tennis to return as long as there are only four participants that are maintaining social distancing.
Gov. Abbott also allowed all licensed physicians to return to work with limited restrictions.
Gov. Abbott announced a different standard would apply to counties with five or fewer cases of COVID-19. These counties must comply with safety standards outlined by doctors, but can increase capacity in businesses to 50% compared to 25%.
If an outbreak occurs in these counties, it could cause them to revert to a more restricted capacity.
Gov. Abbott said he hopes to open businesses like gyms, bars and restaurants by mid-May.
Regarding childcare, Gov. Abbott said the goal is to expand services as much as safely possible.
Additionally, Gov. Abbott outlined three phases for the state’s COVID-19 tracing. Phase one, which has already been completed, mobilized 1,157 state and local contact tracers. Phase two, starting on April 27, will add an additional 1,000 contact tracers and phase three, starting May 11, aims to build a team of 4,000 contact tracers.
These contact tracers test those who may be affected, help isolate those who test positive and contact those who have been in contact with those people, effectively boxing in the virus, according to Gov. Abbott.
Gov. Abbott announced on April 17 a phased plan to gradually reopen Texas businesses. This plan kicked off on Monday, April 20, and allowed some businesses that pose little to no threat of spreading COVID-19 to reopen in stages. On Friday, April 24, all stores in Texas were able to operate “retail-to-go.”
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As of Monday, April, 27, there are more than 1,400 positive COVID-19 cases in the Austin area. KVUE is tracking how many people have tested positive for the virus in Central Texas. To find out how many cases are in your county, go here.
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