In a news conference Monday afternoon, Gov. Greg Abbott announced the official start of Phase 2 of his plan to expand and reopen businesses across the state.

Some changes went into effect immediately while others will begin tomorrow, Friday, May 22.

Businesses that will be allowed to reopen immediately include child care facilities, massage parlors, and youth clubs and sports facilities.

In addition, gyms, non-essential manufacturing and other facilities were also allowed to open under the limited 25 percent capacity.

As of Monday, restaurants already opened in the previous phase are allowed to expand occupancy from 25 percent to 50 percent, according to Abbott.
Outdoor seating at restaurants and bars is not subject to the occupancy limitation provided there is sufficient room to keep patrons from each other at a distance of six feet.

Beginning Friday, May 22, other businesses such as bars, bowling alleys, bingo halls, zoos and aquariums are allowed to open at 25 percent capacity.
As well, professional sports, including baseball, tennis and basketball may resume on Sunday, May 31. However, in-person fans are still not allowed, according to the governor.

Youth sports camps and sports leagues may also resume operations on Sunday, May 31. Parents are allowed to watch these events as long as they maintain social/physical distancing.

Abbott noted that COVID-19 is obviously still present and infecting people.

Nonetheless, it is the goal of the state to find a way to “coexist with the virus” as safely as possible, he said. That means continuing safe practices such as social distancing as well as washing hands frequently and wear a face covering when appropriate.

Abbott reminded people that “safe practices save lives”, especially those who are most vulnerable. They include Texans over the age of 65 or those who have health conditions.

Abbot said everyone must continue to keep up social distancing practices, wash hands frequently and wear a face covering when appropriate.

Abbott said while Texas have not seen any “entrenchments” of COVID-19, there has been a spike in the number of cases in some areas, according to data.

Abbott postponed further reopening in El Paso County as well as the Texas Panhandle because of spikes in infections in the two areas that he described as a “meaningful outbreak.”

This past weekend, the state health department reported the highest number of new cases in a single day. More than 700 new cases were reported Saturday in the Texas Panhandle around Amarillo.

A large cluster of positive cases in that area is associated with meat packing plants.

As of Monday, El Paso County had reported six consecutive days of deaths due to the virus. It is the largest streak of fatalities in Texas throughout the pandemic.

However, Abbott noted the state’s overall low hospitalization and positive test rates, giving him reason for optimism.

Abbott continued to encourage Texans to work together. This effort will help ensure movement towards economic recovery.

Additionally, to help employers and employees stay safe, he encouraged them to implement screening measures as more Texans return to work
“We are getting through this,” Abbott said. “But now more than ever, we need to work together as one Texas. Be a good neighbor. Be a Texan.”