After implementing the first phase of his executive order on May 1, Gov. Greg Abbott allowed additional businesses to open and increased capacity for others on Monday.
Phase 2 of Abbott’s executive order will allow child care facilities, gyms, rodeos, bars, bowling alleys, zoos, bingo halls, skating rinks and aquariums to open at different dates throughout the month. Phase 2 also permits restaurants to increase capacity from 25% to 50% on May 22, according to the order published on Abbott’s website. Abbott also said sporting events, including youth sports, may resume without fans on May 31.
Parker County Judge Pat Deen said it’s important that the community continues working together in making good decisions during this time.
“People aren’t just going to leave their home now that everything is opening up, they’re not just going to go pouring into these restaurants. They’re going to be cautious, they’re going to look at parking lots and they’re going to choose whether they go or not, and they have the choices not to go. If one restaurant is over capacity, there’s going to be a complaint about that and I don’t think anybody wants to digress back to where we were,” Deen said. “I think we all want to continue to make that gradual approach towards a pre-COVID condition in getting our lives back. What we don’t want to happen as a community is start making bad choices, drop our guard and start doing things that are not responsible because we’re all in this together.
“There are going to be varying opinions, but I think the most important thing is that we work collaboratively with respect and really do it together in making good decisions. Right now from my perspective, let’s get the economy going again. These are very difficult decisions to make and very tough times for everyone — the governor down to this level at the county and the cities.”
Under Phase 1, Abbott allowed restaurants, retail and some other businesses to open under a 25% occupancy requirement on May 1. Barbershops and salons followed and were allowed to reopen on May 8 under certain restrictions.
Abbott said businesses that have and are reopening will still need to adhere to guidelines to ensure safety of employees and customers.
“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, 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.”
Deen said with increased testing in Parker County along with reopening the economy, he expected the number of positive cases to increase but that the county hasn’t seen more than 12 active COVID-19 cases at one time.
“We’ve never had more than 12 and there’s no absolutes here that that number won’t spike because two things are happening at one time — we’ve reopened and expanded our capacity to 50% and the we’re testing more people and drilling into those most vulnerable with nursing homes and jails while we continue to test the public at-large,” Deen said. “Tests will continue and correspondingly that’s going to reflect movement in the number of positive cases. The key of this is to maintain what we’ve done with the task force in a containment strategy that promotes the responsibility of each of us working together and making good decisions, but also tracking [personal protective equipment], working with the cities, tracking necessary equipment and even training for a restaurant that’s now opening and expanding to 50%. So expanding the resources through the task force to work with local businesses along with [Texas Department of State Health Services].
“We’re only as effective as the community working together and making those good decisions.”