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Gov. Greg Abbott announces modifications to executive order, allows hair salons to reopen Friday

HOUSTON – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced some modifications and clarifications to his April 27 executive order Tuesday and said that barbershops, nail salons and hairdressers can reopen beginning Friday with some restrictions.

Last week, Abbott rolled out the first phase of the state’s reopening plan, allowing some businesses — like retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls — to reopen with limited occupancy.

As the state continues through the phased reopening, Abbott stressed the importance of maintaining social distancing and hygiene protocols. He attributed the “positive results” in Texas to the fact that people were social distancing, wearing masks, avoiding gatherings and sanitizing.

Here are the highlights from his press conference:

Reopening more businesses

Hair salons, barbershops

After they were not allowed to open in the executive order from last week, Abbott says he worked with local businesses to determine what they would be able to do to ensure the safety of both customers and staff.

On Friday, May 8, Abbott said cosmetology salons, hair salons, tanning salons and barbershops will be allowed to reopen. While Abbott said he is giving business owners the opportunity to reopen, he is not forcing anyone to do so unless they want to.

Some of the rules to reopen:

  • One customer per stylist unless they are waiting for service
  • Six-feet of distancing between work stations
  • Appointment system encouraged
  • If allowing walk-ins, distancing required for people waiting for service
  • Strongly recommends customers and stylists are wearing masks

Gyms and exercise facilities

Gyms and exercise facilities will be allowed to reopen starting May 18.

Some of the rules are:

  • Gyms must operate at 25% capacity
  • Showers and locker rooms must remain closed during the first phase
  • All equipment must be disinfected
  • Customers must wear gloves that cover their whole hands and fingers
  • Must maintain 6-feet social distancing inside the gym
  • If they bring a yoga mat or other equipment from home, it must be disinfected before use

Bars

Abbott said it was still too soon to reopen bars and he encouraged business owners to reach out to his office to provide feedback about how they may be able to safely reopen. He did not provide a timeline for when bars may be able to reopen. Meanwhile, last week, Abbott said alcohol-to-go orders may continue through the reopening and teased the possibility of keeping it permanently.

Non-essential manufacturing

Non-essential manufacturers will be allowed to reopen, effective May 18. Abbott said the reason for the delayed reopening was so companies could establish protocols to ensure safety of workers.

Some of the rules:

  • 25% occupancy
  • Staggered workforce so not all workers are in the space at the same time
  • Six feet of separation between workers but if that’s not possible, add plexiglass between work stations.

Clarifications to last week’s executive order

Funerals, burials, memorials and weddings

  • They are all treated the same as church services that will have limited seating arrangements.
  • Strongly encourage at-risk populations to try and watch or participate remotely.
  • For the vulnerable populations, providers are recommended to designate an area for them
  • Alternate rows in a church setting and have an area of 6 feet spacing between people.
  • Limit seating to household gatherings alone.
  • At wedding receptions, the same type of practices should be used in receptions that are used in restaurants: 25% occupancy, no tables of more than six people and 6-feet separation between tables

Being outdoors

For park-like places like beaches, rivers, and lakes, people are asked to maintain six-feet separation if possible and groups of no more than five people.

Restaurants

While the seating capacity limit of 25% occupancy applies indoors, it does not apply for outdoor seating. However, restaurant owners must maintain distancing requirements.

Education and graduation ceremonies

Mike Morath, commissioner of the Texas Education Agency announced that high school and kindergarten graduations will be allowed in schools with some restrictions.

Here are the rules

  • Hybrid ceremony approved, with students coming in one-at-a-time
  • Vehicle graduations are approved allowing students to attend drive-thru graduation ceremonies
  • Outdoor graduation ceremonies are approved with appropriate distancing between people and family groups

When asked about universities in Texas, Abbott said it was appropriate for them to begin making a plan to reopen for the fall semester, though the decision to reopen will be made later in the summer.

Hospital capacity in Texas as of today

Hospital beds: 19,000

ICU Beds: 2,000

Ventilators: 6,600

Abbott said as Texas continues to ramp up testing and allows healthcare providers to use more beds that were designated for coronavirus patients, the number of available hospital beds may decrease.

It is so important that anybody with any type of health care ailment, have access to doctors, hospitals and health care, Abbott said.

Texas numbers as of today

Texans tested: 427,210

Positive cases: 33,369

Active cases: 15,672

Hospitalizations: 1,888

Fatalities: 906

Recovered: 16,791

Abbott said testing continues to ramp up in Texas. On Tuesday 19,000 Texans were tested, Abbott said. In the past two weeks alone, Texas has done more than half of the total testing that has happened since the outbreak began in Texas in early March, he said.

One of the many reasons testing is going up is because the National Guard is “criss-crossing” Texas, Abbott said.

Texas officials are focusing on places where there has been a high number of coronavirus cases including jails, nursing homes and meat-packing plants, Abbott said. However, he says more than 95% of people who are tested, test negative.

Flare-ups and where to get tested

Abbott says as Texas continues a phased reopening, there will likely be flare-ups of coronavirus cases in different parts of the state. He said “Surge Response Teams” that will have about five or six members will be deployed to help deal with these issues. The teams will be led by the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, the Texas Office of Emergency Management and the Texas National Guard.

Some of the places surge teams are already working are jails, senior living facilities, and meat-packing plants in the panhandle where officials have seen high numbers of coronavirus cases. Officials said at least 20% of Texas nursing homes have reported at least one coronavirus case so far and about a third of all coronavirus deaths in the state — 317 deaths — are associated with a nursing home. Officials also s aid that of the 47 surge teams currently working around the state, about 20 are working with nursing homes.

Abbott stressed that Texans try and get tested for coronavirus. The Texas Department of Health and Human Services has a map that lists more than 400 testing centers where you can go and get tested for COVID-19. To access the map, click here.

Watch his full announcement below:

WATCH LIVE: Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to give an update on coronavirus and reopening Texas. LIVE BLOG: https://www.click2houston.com/news/texas/2020/05/05/watch-today-gov-greg-abbott-holding-press-conference-on-texas-coronavirus-response-at-230-pm/

Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Tuesday, May 5, 2020

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