Texas allows bars to open Friday under Phase II

Tom Abrahams Image
Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Gov. Abbott announces plan to reopen Texas
EMBED <>More Videos

While COVID-19 "is still in Texas," Gov. Greg Abbott explained in this video that these businesses are now allowed to reopen.

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- Gov. Greg Abbott released a list of Texas businesses that are allowed to open on Monday, and announced the reopening dates for bars, child care centers and other services.

"Every decision I have made, as well as every decision I will announce today, is unanimously supported by our team of medical experts," said Abbott.

Here's what you need to know:

Hair salons and gyms are already open, but all other "personal service" businesses can reopen with restrictions. This includes massage parlors, other massage services by licensed massage therapists, electrolysis, waxing, tattoo studios, piercing studios, and hair loss treatment and growth services. These business must maintain 6 feet of social distancing between operating work stations.

Offices can reopen with up to 10 employees or up to 25 percent of its work force. Employees must also practice safe and appropriate social distancing.

Plus, child care facilities will also be allowed to open. Based on CDC guidance, each facility must implement social distancing strategies, intensify cleaning and disinfection efforts, modify drop-off and pick-up procedures and implement screening procedures upon arrival.


All Texas restaurants will now be able to ramp up capacity from 25 percent to 50 percent. However, Abbott said capacity guidelines do not apply to outdoor areas.

Bars can reopen at a 25 percent capacity. The state's guidelines state any parts of the establishment or facility that have "interactive functions or exhibits, including child play areas, interactive

games, and video arcades" must remain closed. Interactive amusement venues, such as video arcades, amusement parks, and water parks, are also to remain closed.

Meanwhile, bowling alleys, bingo halls, skating rinks, drive-ins, zoos and aquariums can also open at a 25 percent capacity.


Youth sports may begin holding practices without spectators other than one parent or guardian per participant, as needed, at the end of the month. Those sports may begin holding games or similar competitions, with or without spectators, on or after June 15.

All youth summer camps, including overnight camps, are also allowed to open.

In addition, professional basketball, baseball, car racing, football, golf, softball, and tennis leagues are allowed to apply to the Department of State Health Services for approval to hold professional sporting events in the state. These events may take place on or after May 31. However, Abbott said the events are not allowed to have spectators physically present.


The governor said schools may begin offering summer school programs, but are limited to only 10 students per classroom.


As Abbott continued his briefing on Monday, he emphasized the growth of the state's COVID-19 response efforts. He said there are now more than 600 testing sites across the state.

"First half of May, we more than doubled the number of tests that were given in all of March and April combined. We are now averaging more than 25,000 tests per day," said Abbott. "But most importantly, our ability to open up will strengthen by the ability to identify and to respond to COVID-19 hot spots."

Those hot spots, he said, are nursing homes, jails, and meat processing plants. Counties in the Amarillo area are on a pause in regards to its reopening dates due to an ongoing meat processing outbreak. The dates there will be under a one-week delay.

"When we increase the number of testing in hot spots, the number of people testing positive is going to spike," explained Abbott. "Then, what we find, is that usually within a week or two, the flare up is contained."

As the state moved into phase two in its reopening plan, Abbott said one of the three key metrics that remained a focus was the state's positivity rate, which is the percentage of people who test positive for COVID-19.

"The past month has shown a downward trajectory in the positivity rate," said Abbott. Below is a graph presented by Abbott which shows on April 13, the state's positivity rate was just above 13 percent. Now, it's at about 5 percent.

Hospitalizations and hospital capacity was another key metric, Abbott explained. "We want to avoid situations like what people saw in New York where hospitals were overrun [and] lacked desperately-needed capacity."

He said as of Sunday, Texas has fewer people hospitalized for COVID-19 than any day since April 21.

Just one hour after Abbott announced these plans, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced Harris County and Houston reported 9,127 of the state's 47,784 coronavirus cases. Harris also has the most COVID-19 deaths in Texas at 204.


Houston's top medical expert says more coronavirus cases doesn't mean it's getting worse

Texas Reopening: Gov. Abbott lays out his plan

Follow Tom Abrahams on Facebook and Twitter.