The Evening Campaign Update
After being criticized for two weeks as he allowed other state governors to get in front of him in opening their economies, Texas Governor Greg Abbott finally announced at a Monday press conference that he will allow major new business reopenings in his state beginning May 1.
Here are the Highlights:
– Abbott said he would allow the “stay-at-home” order issued on April 1 to expire as scheduled at midnight, April 30.
– What the Governor refers to as “Phase 1” reopenings will include businesses such as restaurants, theaters, salons, retailers and shopping malls being able to open their doors but limiting customer traffic to 25% of their allowed capacity. UPDATE: Salons will not be allowed to reopen on May 1. They may be allowed to reopen in Phase 2, on May 18.
– UPDATE: Sole proprietorships may also reopen on May 1. One smart reader asks, what if you’re a sole proprietor who runs a barber shop? Good question.
– In less-populated counties that have experienced 5 or fewer Wuhan Virus cases thus far (which, as we have previously noted, includes more than half of the state’s 254 counties), businesses will be allowed up to 50% of capacity.
– Also allowed to reopen on May 1 are licensed medical practitioners such as doctors and dentists.
– Hospitals will also be allowed to take in additional patients and perform more elective surgical procedures, so long as they continue to reserve 15% of their bed space for COVID-19 patients.
– The Governor conditions these reopenings on the continued observation of social distancing guidelines that have been in effect since mid-March, and recommends – but does not require – citizens to wear masks while venturing outside the home.
– He also specifically notes that his guidelines supersede local orders. This would specifically include the order issued last week by Harris County Judge Lina Hildalgo requiring her citizens to wear masks, subject to arrest and fines. Abbott noted that his order disallows local officials the ability to impose such penalties in their local orders.
– Gov. Abbott also said that sports activities will be allowed to resume on May 1, but only to the extent that they involve no more than 4 participants. So basically, we’re talking about golf, tennis and other similar sports.
All of that and more is part of Phase 1. I will update this piece with further information as it comes available.
The Governor also discussed Phase 2 of his plan, which would begin effective May 18, if – and it’s an important IF – the data shows that the state has not seen an increase in the number of Wuhan Virus cases in the two weeks following the beginning of Phase 1 on May 1.
Phase 2 would include the opening of additional businesses, the increasing of capacity usage, and the allowance of additional sports activities involving more participants. It would also include permission to hold summer camps subject to social distancing guidelines.
All in all, the Governor’s plan is exactly what millions of Texans have been waiting to hear from him in recent days: An aggressive, strategic approach to reopening Texas’s economy in a way that makes sense, and clearly demonstrates an awareness of the geographic and demographic diversity of this giant state. Obviously, the voices of those Texans have been heard in Austin, and the Governor and his Strike Force responded in a way that makes sense for everyone.
It’s nice to have some good news to report for a change.
God Bless Texas.
That is all.
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