Governor Outlines Phase III Of Plan To Reopen Texas

All Businesses May Reopen at 50 Percent Capacity Immediately; Restaurants May Reopen at 75 Precent June 12

On Wednesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced Phase III of the plan to reopen the Texas economy, which is outlined in Executive Order GA-26, with additional details available online at https://open.texas.gov/

Governor Greg Abbott outlined plans for Phase III to reopen the Texas economy

“As anticipated, the new positive cases that we are seeing are largely the result of isolated hot spots in nursing homes, jails, and meat packing plants,” Governor Abbott during the Wednesday afternoon announcement. “Thanks to the effectiveness of our Surge Response Teams, we have the ability to contain those hot spots while opening up Texas for business. As we begin Phase III, I ask all Texans and Texas businesses to continue following the standard health protocols and to heed the guidance of our state and federal officials who continue to closely monitor COVID-19. If we remain vigilant, we will continue to mitigate the spread of this virus, protect public health, and get more Texans back to work and their daily activities.”

Between May 26 and June 2, over 4 percent of new cases came from jails or prisons, meat packing plants and nursing homes. Currently, there are 1,487 Texans hospitalized due to COVID-19, 20,679 active cases in the state and 45,858 Texans are estimated to have recovered, the governor reported.

Effective Immediately

“This executive order no longer singles out types of businesses that may operate, and instead generally authorizes all businesses to operate at a 50% indoor occupancy level. Some entities are excluded from the 50% limitation and one has a delayed start date,” notes David Erinakes, chief of staff for Representative Dan Flynn.

Capacity Exceptions

Under Phase 3, effective immediately, all businesses in Texas will be able to operate at 50 percent capacity, with two exceptions:

  • Businesses, organizations and facilities that could previously operate at 100 percent can continue to do so. They include:
    1. Businesses providing CISA services;
    2. Religious services, such as a church or house of worship
    3. Operations performed by a local government;
    4. Child care services;
    5. Youth camps; and
    6. Recreational sports programs for youth and adults
  • Amusement parks can operate at 50 percent capacity, but in counties with more than 1,000 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases may open beginning June 19.

Outdoor Capacity

Special provisions have been made for outdoor gatherings, such as Fourth of July celebrations, but the Governor stipulates as imperative is that local and public health officials collaborate on safe standards.

The executive order generally authorizes unlimited outdoor capacity limits, subject to appropriate social distancing. The following, however, are still subject to an outdoor limit of 50 percent of the normal operating limits in Texas:

  • Professional, collegiate and similar sporting events
  • Swimming pools
  • Waterparks
  • Museums and libraries
  • Zoos, aquariums and natural caverns
  • Rodeos and equestrian events

Outdoor gatherings estimated to exceed 500 people that are not outlined in the Executive Order may be further restricted by a local county judge or mayor. 

Bars, and similar establishments, may operate at 50 percent, but patrons must remain seated.

Effective June 12

Two additional changes take place:

  • Restaurants may go to 75 percent indoor occupancy
  • Counties that have less than 10 active cases of COVID-19 and have filed an attestation with the DSHS may increase the indoor and outdoor occupancies for other businesses (as applicable) from 50 percent to 75 percent.

Effective June 19

Amusement parks and carnivals in counties with more than 1,000 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 may open at 50 percent capacity on June 19.

Additional Provisions

  • All businesses should continue to follow the minimum standard health protocols from DSHS. Details and a full list of guidelines, openings, and relevant dates may be found online at http://open.texas.gov.
  • Individuals are encouraged to wear appropriate face coverings. 
  • People should not be in groups greater than ten when possible
  • People over the age of 65 are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible
  • People are still asked to avoid visiting nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities, or long-term care facilities 

Guidance and protocols found on the Open Texas website are frequently updated; state officials recommend checking weekly for changes.  

Executive Order GA-26 outlines openings effective immediately

Author: Faith Huffman

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