AUSTIN, Texas — Big news from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott brought cheers from Texans who are looking a little rough these days. He announced beauty salons, barbers, nail salons and tanning salons can open Friday, May 8, as long as they practice social distancing guidelines. Watch live on KHOU 11.
Each stylist, nail tech and tanning salon employee can only have one customer at a time. Waiting customers should stay outside unless they can stay six feet apart. Abbott said customers and clients should wear masks.
Office buildings, gyms and exercise facilities can open on May 18 at 25% capacity.
Gym customers who use exercise equipment must wear gloves and all facilities need to follow social distancing guidelines. The facilities must disinfect frequently and showers/locker rooms are still off-limits.
Abbott also added an important clarification regarding phase one of reopening the state. He said weddings, funerals, memorials and burials should follow the same guidelines as churches by keeping people six feet apart and leaving every other row empty. Remote options should continue to be offered for high-risk groups.
Texas education officials announced three options for graduation ceremonies:
- Outdoor ceremonies with social distancing between family groups
- Hybrid ceremonies with one student at a time photographed receiving their diploma
- Vehicle ceremonies with drive-by graduations, similar to the birthday parades that have become popular across the country
Abbott advised at-risk groups, including people 65 and/or people with underlying health conditions, to continue to stay home and watch church services and special events like weddings and graduations remotely when possible.
Abbott mentioned bars but said he wanted to see their plans for reopening before adding them to the list.
Abbott said 427,210 Texans have been tested for COVID-19, with more than half of them tested in the last two weeks.
He said the number of daily confirmed cases is expected to increase as the state ramps up testing to nearly 30,000 tests per day.
Over the first weekend of May 2020, Texas health officials reported the biggest consecutive-day gains in the number of new COVID–19 cases, with more than 2,000 new cases added on May 2 and May 3.
But Abbott points out that more than 95% of the people tested the day he reopened the state were negative for COVID-19.
Texas Health and Human Services reports that as of Monday afternoon we had 33,359 COVID-19 cases in the state with 906 deaths and an estimated 16,791 recoveries.
Abbott said teams will continue to closely monitor all counties for possible COVID-19 surges and take necessary action if it happens.
He said Texas is ready for whatever lies ahead with 19,000 hospital beds, 2,000 ICU beds and 6,600 ventilators available.
Under the governor’s first phase, retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls were allowed to reopen with limited occupancy on May 1.
The response over the weekend ranged from Texans who stayed home to those who ventured out but followed social distancing guidelines to residents who blatantly ignored them.
People tired of being cooped up inside their homes packed Galveston beaches, which also opened on Friday. A total of 180,000 vehicles crossed the Causeway onto the island over the weekend.
Some locals complained that crowded restaurants weren’t sticking to the 25% occupancy limit or keeping customers 6 feet apart. Others were commended for following the guidelines.
City of Houston and Harris County authorities have received hundreds of complaints about businesses not complying with the rules, keeping the fire department busy.
"We’re averaging about 70 calls for service in a 24-hour period, so they're really running from one complaint to another," Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena said.
Pena said since Friday his department has responded to 266 complaints. He said only 10 warnings were issued.
"We're not there to shut them down. We're essentially there to inform them and provide some information on proper distancing and what the order requires and we've been very lucky to get compliance," Pena said.
He said a lot of the complaints were about bars that aren’t allowed to open under phase one.