Malls, movie theaters, retailers, churches and businesses can reopen with restrictions starting Friday, May 1.
Gov. Greg Abbott is allowing Texas’ stay-at-home order to expire on Friday, which will kickstart Phase 1 of loosening restrictions.
As of 12:01 a.m. Friday, retailers, malls, movie theaters, businesses and churches can allow people through their doors, but only up to a 25% occupancy rate. That occupancy rate can be criminally enforced or the business could lose its operating license for violating the order.
Counties with less than five cases of COVID-19 on or after April 30, as verified by the Texas Department of State Health Services, can increase occupancy to up to 50% for restaurants, retail, shopping malls, museums and libraries, and movie theaters if they meet certain criteria.
Abbott said people need to continue practicing social distancing. People over 65 and/or considered at-risk should continue to stay home.
If COVID-19 doesn’t spread, retail stores and other businesses can increase occupancy to 50%. That could happen as soon as May 18, which is when Phase 1 is currently set to end.
The Governor’s Strike Force outlined minimum standard health protocols for all employers, which include training employees on appropriate cleaning and disinfection and hand hygiene.
The protocol also says employees should be screened for symptoms possibly related to COVID-19 before coming into the business.
Employees should also maintain at least 6 feet of separation from other individuals.
“If such distancing is not feasible, other measures such as face-covering, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, cleanliness, and sanitation should be rigorously practiced,” the protocol said.
Churches and other religious houses of worship will be allowed to meet in-person. Social distancing is encouraged and people who are considered at-risk should use online services when possible.
Attendees should keep at least two seats or 6-feet of separation between them. People of the same household can sit beside each other, with two empty seats on each side.
Some faith leaders in Dallas said they plan to remain closed.
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Non-essential businesses have been able to practice “retail-to-go” beginning April 24, meaning they can sell items that are then picked up curbside.
Retailers are encouraged to consider dedicating certain shopping hours for only at-risk customers. Retailers should disinfect their stores daily, including disinfecting surfaces that were touched by customers after they leave.
Customers should wear cloth face coverings.
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Restaurants can offer dine-in, but must remain at 25% capacity, unless the county has five or fewer cases of COVID-19. Parties must maintain 6-feet distance apart from other parties at all times, including while waiting to be seated.
Tables of more than six people are not allowed. Disposable menus are required for each new customer. Condiments are only available upon request, in single-use portions.
If a buffet is offered, restaurant employees serve the food to customers.
Counties that have less than five cases of COVID-19 can raise capacity to 50%. Bars are to remain closed, even if they serve food, The Texas Tribune reported.
Bars are not allowed to reopen during Phase I.
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Movie theaters are allowed to reopen with 25% capacity, but Cinemark and Alamo Drafthouse said they will not be reopening Friday.
Cinemark says they’re not planning on opening its theaters back up until early July and will not really “ramp up” until mid-July.
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Outdoor sports are allowed as long as there are no more than four people are playing together at a time. Golf courses can reopen.
Local government operations, including county and municipal government operations relating to permitting, recordation, and document-filing services can be allowed to reopen as determined by the local government.
Malls can reopen with 25% capacity. The foodcourt dining areas, play areas, and interactive displays and settings must remain closed.
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Dentist offices can reopen and begin seeing patients Friday with fewer restrictions.
The Texas State Board of Dental Examiners is coming up with “emergency rules” for safe practice during the pandemic, according to the Texas Dental Association’s website.
What about tattoo shops, bars, beauty salons and barbershops?
Public swimming pools, bars, gyms, cosmetology salons, massage establishments, interactive amusement venues, such as bowling alleys and video arcades, and tattoo and piercing studios will remain closed through Phase I, according to Gov. Abbott’s outline.
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