Gov. Greg Abbott has announced a series of new executive orders in response to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in the state. The orders went into effect May 1, with additional updates provided May 5.
Gov. Abbott’s Executive Order, GA-18, is effective May 1 to May 15. The new orders continue recommendations from previous orders regarding staying home but also include guidance for a phased reopening of businesses, first introduced on April 27 then expanded on May 5 with GA-21.
According to the Orders, residents are strongly encouraged to minimize social gatherings and in-person contact with people who are not in the same household except to provide or obtain essential services or reopened services.
People over 65 are strongly encouraged to stay home as much as possible, and maintain appropriate distance from any member of their household who has been out of the residence the previous 14 days.
In providing or obtaining essential or reopened services, residents and businesses should follow the minimum standard health protocols recommended by DSHS, including social-distancing, working from home if possible, and practicing good hygiene and sanitation. Face-coverings are encouraged but not mandatory. Specifically:
- Stay home if you can;
- Wash hands often and for 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer with at least 60-percent alcohol;
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue away;
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands;
- Disinfect surfaces, buttons, handles, doorknobs, and other places touched often; and,
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
As part of Phase 1 of the Governor’s reopening plan, the following may reopen on May 1 while maintaining a maximum of 25-percent capacity and continuing to implement social-distancing standards:
- All retail establishments;
- Restaurants (additional health guidance/en español);
- Movie theaters;
- Museums and Libraries;
- Businesses operated by sole proprietors; and,
- Dentists and doctors offices.
The Governor has provided a handbook with specific guidance for businesses wishing to reopen. If the curve remains flat by mid-May, the Governor may announce Phase 2, which would increase capacity to 50-percent, and so on.
As of May 8, per GA-21, the following businesses may also reopen but with conditions detailed in the Governor’s Checklists:
- Cosmetology salons & barber shops;
- Nail salons;
- Tanning salons; and,
- Swimming pools, subject to certain limitations, including on occupancy or operating levels.
As of May 18, the following may reopen:
- Services provided in an office may operate with the greater of five individuals or 25% of the total office workforce;
- Non-essential manufacturing [services] at 25% occupancy; and,
- Gyms and exercise facilities and classes, whether indoor, outdoor, individual, or group, at a 25% occupancy and additional restrictions.
Under the orders the following establishments, however, must remain closed until further notice:
- Interactive entertainment venues such as bowling alleys and video arcades;
- Massage establishments;
- Tattoo and Piercing studios.
Also, people shall not visit nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities, or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance.
In addition to allowing access to essential or reopened services, GA-18 does not prohibit engaging in essential daily activities, including visiting parks, hunting or fishing, or engaging in physical activity like jogging, bicycling, or other outdoor and non-contact sports (such as golf and tennis) so long as necessary precautions are maintained to reduce transmission of COVID-19. This includes limiting outdoor sports participants to no more than four.
GA-19 establishing certain medical standards and requiring hospitals maintain 15-percent minimum capacity for COVID-19 patients, and GA-20 implementing travel restrictions (14-day mandatory self-quarantine for air travelers arriving to Texas as their final destination from California, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Washington State, Atlanta, Ga.; Chicago, Ill.; Detroit, Mich.; and Miami, Fla.), are in effect indefinitely.
More information about the overall response, community resources, as well as status of city facilities & programs, etc., is available at www.TheColonyTx.gov/covid19.