State Watch

Texas to begin lifting coronavirus restrictions Friday

Texas will begin a phased reopening process on Friday as scheduled, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced in a press briefing Monday.

Abbott said his stay-at-home executive order, set to expire at the end of April, has “done our job, we’re ready to open Texas safely and in phases. We don’t want to reopen just to close again. Phase one begins this Friday, May 1.”

The lifting of the restrictions will allow all retailers, restaurants, movie theaters and malls to reopen, with Abbott saying occupancy will be limited to 25 percent.

The governor said barber shops, gyms and hair salons will remain closed but could reopen in the second phase, which could come as early as May 18 and would also allow occupancy of 50 percent. Abbott said the state was waiting for another two weeks of data to confirm no further flare-ups of the coronavirus.

The first phase, Abbott said, will “emphasize the importance of vulnerable populations to stay at home as much as possible,” saying businesses should accommodate those populations as much as possible. The governor said businesses can reopen or remain closed at their discretion, as he also said the state would allow libraries and museums to reopen with similarly limited occupancy once the order expires.

Houses of worship, meanwhile, will also be allowed to reopen for the weekend, Abbott said, but added that social distancing measures are strongly encouraged within them.

Abbott said the Lone Star State has the third-most recoveries of any state and that the number of people recovering from the virus is on track to surpass its active cases.

Abbott advised Texans 65 and older to continue abiding by the stay-at-home order and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) advised residents in general to wear masks, although he noted it was not mandatory.

“This has been an incredible team effort,” Patrick said. “We are in this position quite frankly better than any other state in the country.”

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