Texas Begins to Re-Open on May 1

Gov. Abbott announced that starting on May 1, “Phase I” of the state’s re-opening process will begin.  In addition to the governor’s prior order allowing essential businesses to remain open (which included all forms of residential home construction), restaurants, retail stores, movie theaters and malls can re-open Friday, May 1.  However, those businesses must be limited to 25% of their listed occupancy.

Texans Helping Texans: The Governor's Report to open Texas outlines all the new protocols, guidance, and recommendations for the phased re-opening. The report also includes a series of Open Texas Checklists that outline DSHS' minimum standard health protocols for all Texans.

While the “stay at home” order will expire on April 30, Gov Abbott stated, "Now more than ever, Texans must remain committed to safe distancing practices that reduce the spread of COVID-19, and we must continue to rely on doctors and data to provide us with the safest strategies to restore Texans' livelihoods.”

Executive Order (GA-18) does the following:

  • All retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and malls are permitted to reopen on Friday, May 1.
    • These services must limit their capacity to 25% of their listed occupancy.
    • Within shopping malls, the food-court dining areas, play areas, and interactive displays and settings must remain closed.
  • All museums and libraries may open under the same 25% occupancy limitation, but interactive areas of museums must remain closed.
  • State libraries and museums will open by May 1, and local public museums and libraries may reopen only if permitted by the local government.
  • Single-person offices may re-open as well.
  • Churches and places of worship remain open.
  • Outdoor sports are allowed to resume so long as no more than four participants are playing together at one time and social distancing practices are followed.
  • Local government operations, including county and municipal government operations relating to permitting, recordation, and document-filing services, may re-open as determined by the local government.
  • 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
  • Nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities, and long-term care facilities must remain closed to visitors unless to provide critical assistance.

DSHS has recommended minimum standard health protocols for all individuals, all employers and employees, as well as industry-specific protocols for retailers, retail customers, restaurants, restaurant patrons, movie theaters, movie theater customers, museums and libraries, museum and library visitors, outdoor sports participants, single-person offices, and low COVID-19 counties. These protocols are outlined in the Open Texas Checklists within the Governor's report beginning on page 20.

The Governor also established increased occupancy protocols for certain counties with five or fewer laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19. Those counties may, on an individualized basis, increase occupancy limits to up to 50% for restaurants, retail, shopping malls, museums and libraries, and movie theaters if they meet certain criteria.

Phase I will continue until at least May 18. The Governor will continue to evaluate next steps for the state.

Additionally, the Governor issued an Executive Order (GA-20) to eliminate the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for individuals traveling from Louisiana. Under GA-20, the mandated 14-day quarantine for travelers from the following areas remains in place: California; Connecticut; New York; New Jersey; Washington; Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan, and Miami, Florida.

Finally, the order makes it clear that Gov. Abbott’s executive order supersedes any conflicting local order.  Specifically, the order reads:

“This executive order shall supersede any conflicting order issued by local officials in response to the COVID-19 disaster, but only to the extent that such a local order restricts essential services or reopened services allowed by this executive order, allows gatherings prohibited by this executive order, or expands the list of essential services or the list or scope of reopened services as set forth in this executive order.”