Updated with details of the governor's three executive orders.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced three executive orders Friday that will reopen the Texas economy in stages. The orders loosens restrictions on retail businesses and medical procedures. However, students will not return to class this school year, he said.
The governor also announced he will reopen state parks on Monday.
One reason the state is reopening in phases is because Texas has slowed the progression of COVID-19, Abbott said.
“We must be guided by data and doctors and put health and safety first,” Abbott said. “We must prioritize protecting our most vulnerable populations.”
Going forward, Texas will adopt safe standards that aid in the reopening process, according to Abbott.
In one order, he announced the formation of a statewide strikeforce consisting of elected leaders, business leaders and medical professionals, who will “collaborate to open up Texas while keeping our communities safe.”
"This [reopening] will be driven by two things: what our medical team advises and what the data shows," Abbott said.
Abbott emphasized these would be gradual steps and not everything would open at once.
“You [Texans] have made personal sacrifices to ensure our state slows the spread of COVID-19,” Abbott said. “You helped reduce the number of Texans who needed hospital care. Texas needs you to continue those efforts.”
Abbott said the state will announce more ways it will reopen on Monday, April 27.
"Together we can overcome this pandemic," Abbott said. "We can get folks back to work and prevent the spread of COVID-19."
Reopening retail businesses in Texas
Retail businesses will be able to sell items to-go, via a drive-thru set up or delivery, starting Friday, April 24, Abbott said.
“This temporary plan should let you access core retailers while minimizing contact with others,” Abbott said.
Updates on places with large gatherings, like restaurants, movie theaters and large event spaces, will come later. The state plans to provide more information about what other businesses can reopen, Abbott said.
Possible mandates could include limiting the number of people in a certain business or require patrons to wear masks, Abbott said.
“Businesses without social distancing standards can set us back rather than propel us forward,” Abbott said. “More openings will be announced in May when it is determined that rates continue to decline and they can detect and contain outbreaks of COVID-19.”
Some medical procedures to resume in Texas
Abbott announced that non-emergency medical procedures can resume starting April 22. An example he used was a diagnostic test for suspected cancer.
Doctors and nurses will continue treating coronavirus patients as a robust supply chain of personal protective equipment continues, Abbott said.
"We're now beginning to see glimmers that the worst is behind us," Abbott said.
Abbott said the capacity of hospitals and amount of protective equipment available to healthcare personnel, make this order possible.
Schools to remain closed for 2019-2020 academic year
Students, at the public, private and college-level, will not return to class the remainder of the school year after determining it would be unsafe, Abbott said.
Abbott previously ordered schools to close until May 4.
Teachers and other school personnel will be allowed to return to school for administrative duties, online learning or cleaning out classrooms, Abbott said.
The Texas Education Agency will update districts about graduation proceedings.
The TEA will also help colleges and universities with guidance on concluding the semester and how to proceed with summer courses.
Texas state parks to reopen
State parks will reopen April 20 with certain restrictions in place.
Visitors must wear face coverings or masks and must maintain a distance of at least 6 feet for those who are not in the same household. Visitors may be in groups no larger than five.
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