Phase II of Re-Opening Begins

By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

EAST TEXAS – Phase II of Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s plan to reboot the Texas economy is now underway. During a press conference held on Monday, May 18, the governor laid out his blueprint to move into the second phase of re-opening the Lone Star State, while minimizing the spread of COVID-19.

According to the plan, restaurants may increase their occupancy to 50 percent. Other services and activities that remained closed under Phase I may begin to open with restricted occupancy levels and minimum standard health protocols laid out by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

The governor also announced public schools in Texas now have the option to provide in-person summer school so long as they follow social distancing practices and health protocols laid out by DSHS. These classes may begin as soon as June 1.

“Today, tomorrow, and every day going forward is one step closer to medical discoveries that can treat and protect people from COVID-19—but until that day comes, our focus is keeping Texans safe while restoring their ability to get back to work, open their businesses, pay their bills, and put food on their tables,” Abbott said.

“By continuing to use safe practices,” he added, “we are slowing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting our most vulnerable. Now, more than ever, we need to work together as one Texas. I ask all Texans to continue heeding the guidance of our state and federal medical experts and do their part to protect public health. If we all unite in our resolve, we will overcome this challenge.”

The following services and activities, along with the dates of reopening, under Phase II are:

  • Child Care Centers (May 18)
  • Massage and Personal-Care Centers (May 18)
  • Youth Clubs (May 18)
  • Rodeo and Equestrian Events (May 22)
  • Bowling Alleys, Bingo Halls, Simulcast Racing, and Skating Rinks (May 22)
  • Bars (May 22)
  • Aquariums and Natural Caverns (May 22)
  • Zoos (May 29)
  • Day Youth Camps (May 31)
  • Overnight Youth Camps (May 31)
  • Youth Sports (May 31)
  • Certain professional sports without in-person spectators (May 31)

All sporting and camp activities are required to adhere by special safety standards, and minimum standard health protocols have been established for all newly-announced opened services and activities.

Businesses located in office buildings may also open but must limit their occupancy to the greater of 10 employees or 25 percent of their workforce.

Restaurants may expand their occupancy to 50 percent beginning May 22. Bars—including wine tasting rooms, craft breweries, and similar businesses—may open at 25 percent occupancy but like restaurants, these occupancy limits do not apply to outdoor areas that maintain safe distancing among parties, according to the governor’s website.

Opened services and activities under Phase II are subject to certain occupancy limits and health and safety protocols. For details and a full list of guidelines, openings, and relevant dates, visit www.gov.texas.gov/opentexas.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].   

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