AUSTIN, Texas — On Tuesday, May 5, Gov. Greg Abbott gave an update on what the state is doing in response to coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
During the press conference, Gov. Abbott announced barbershops, hair salons, tanning salons and nail salons can reopen Friday, May 8, in Texas. Abbott recommended using an appointment system only, but said if you allow walk-ins, make sure customers keep six feet of distance from each other. Stylists and customers are encouraged to wear facemasks.
"Texas is in a position to continue opening parts of our economy because of the efforts and determination of the people of Texas," said Abbott. "Over the past month, Texans have worked together to contain the spread of COVID-19 by following social distancing practices and staying at home whenever possible. As we move forward, I urge all Texans to continue following these social distancing guidelines and the health standards we have provided. With every Texan doing their part, we will contain COVID-19, we will unleash our entrepreneurs, and we will make it through this challenge together."
The governor also announced Texas gyms and exercise facilities may reopen starting May 18 at 25% capacity.
Showers and locker rooms must remain closed at gyms during the first phase of reopening, according to Abbott. Equipment must be disinfected before and after use, and customers should wear gloves and keep six feet of distancing while inside, Abbott said.
Abbott said there was not a reopening date for bars in Texas. He said he'd like to hear from bar owners about their strategies they believe they can put in place to operate safely.
Non-essential manufacturers may also start business again starting May 18 with 25% occupancy and a staggered workflow so employees will not all be working at once, Abbott said.
Wedding venues and services required to conduct weddings may immediately open, Abbott said. Weddings held indoors other than at a church, congregation or house of worship must limit occupancy to 25%. Wedding reception services may also resume, but facilities must limit their occupancy to 25% of the total listed occupancy. These occupancy limits do not apply to the outdoor areas of a wedding reception or to outdoor wedding receptions.
It's good news for wedding venues in and around the Dripping Springs area, which is known as the "Wedding Capital of Texas."
"They are already busy determining how their venue can fit into this this new world and excited – everyone I talked to was just thrilled to be able to have something, a start anyway," said Pam Owens, the president and CEO of the Dripping Springs Visitors Bureau.
Gov. Abbott's update states that people should continue to avoid visiting bars, massage establishments, tattoo studios, piercing studios, sexually-oriented businesses, or interactive amusement venues such as bowling alleys, video arcades, amusement parks, water parks or splash pads.
Texas education officials announced four options for graduation ceremonies:
- Virtual ceremonies
- Hybrid ceremonies, a compilation of videos of each student receiving their diploma
- Vehicle ceremonies where students and families wait in their vehicles while other graduates are recognized individually
- Outdoor ceremonies with social distancing between family groups, those ceremonies can happen between May 15 and May 31 in rural Texas counties that has an attestation as described in the Governor’s Report to Open Texas that remains in effect 7 days prior to the ceremony or in any Texas county on or after June 1.
Gov. Abbott said 427,210 Texans have been tested for coronavirus as of May 5, and of those, 33,369 have tested positive. The governor said 19,000 people were tested on May 5 alone. Abbott said 906 Texans have died, there were 15,672 active cases and there were 1,888 hospitalizations as of May 5. A total of 16,791 people have recovered from COVID–19, according to Abbott.
Abbott emphasized the "positivity rate," which is the percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus compared to the overall amount of testing.
A total of 19,000 hospital beds were available statewide for coronavirus patients, 2,000 of those being ICU beds. Abbott said there were 6,600 ventilators available. Abbott said, in the coming days, the "number of available beds for coronavirus patients" should decrease as they are dedicated back to hospital patients with "other types of diseases and healthcare challenges."
"While we have been responding to every healthcare need of those who test positive for COVID-19, there have been some who have needed to be diagnosed for cancer ... for heart disease or some other type of physical ailment," Abbott said. "It is so important that anybody with any type of ailment whatsoever have access to doctors and hospitals and healthcare they need."
Austin Mayor Steve Adler released the following statement after Tuesday's conference:
“Relying on science and data means the governor should be waiting the necessary 3-4 weeks to count increased infections and hospitalizations before layering on more risk. The more allowed physical interactions, the less likely the Governor will avoid scaling back to stop a deadly surge. Austinites: make wise personal choices. It’s dangerous for many to consider going to a barber, a salon, or a gym. It’s most dangerous for the barber and the stylist and you cannot sufficiently protect them. Note that the governor emphasizes six-foot distancing, no groups larger than a few outside your household, and the need for face coverings.”
He also shared his opinions on Facebook Live.
Editor's note: The report from the governor's office below contains an error. KVUE learned May 6 the number of new cases on April 20 was 535 not 553. Therefore the positivity rate on April 20 is not 7.2%, but 6.96%
On May 1, some Texas businesses such as restaurants, retail stores and malls began to open their doors again as part of phase one Gov. Abbott’s plan to reopen the state. The next part of the governor's plan, phase two, could begin by May 18 and would allow even more businesses such as nail salons to reopen and expand the capabilities of phase one businesses.
Before phase two begins, Gov. Abbott said there must be two weeks of data showing that the virus is continuing to be contained.
RELATED: Retail stores, movie theaters, restaurants and malls able to reopen May 1, Gov. Abbott says
The statewide stay home order is also no longer in effect. Gov. Abbott let the order expire on April 30.
PEOPLE ARE ALSO READING: