Cox’s May 21 update came on the heels of a number of business openings as Texas enters Phase 2 of Gov. Greg Abbott’s reopening plan.
“Some really good news for some of our businesses in our area is that now personal care facilities are open,” Cox said, adding that the category includes tattoo parlors, hair removal salons, piercing parlors and more.
Abbott’s May 18 order also permitted office spaces and gyms to open at 25% capacity and with other guidelines in place. Child care facilities have also reopened, according to Cox; this includes the YMCA and the Bouy and Girls Clubs in the Lake Travis area.
Individuals are still encouraged to stay in groups of 10 or fewer people and to practice social distancing efforts. While neither Travis County nor the City of Lakeway can mandate the use of face masks, Cox said their use is still encouraged.
“We’re not going to mandate you wearing face masks, but we’re really asking you to because we know that’s socially responsible and helps us keep the spread of the virus down,” Cox said.
However, if wearing a face covering presents any health issues for an individual, the practice is not recommended, she said.
This week, Lakeway officially opened its lap pool for swim teams and master’s programs but has not opened the section containing the leisure pool. The city is anticipating a June opening for that section.
“We have to figure out how we’re going to manage a 25% capacity,” Cox said, adding that Lakeway Parks & Recreation Director Andrew Bennett is currently developing a plan.
The Lakeway Activity Center is also working to open its camps and classes for the community, and updated information should be available shortly.
As of the May 21 broadcast, travel restrictions have also been lifted for Texas residents. Previously, travel was suspended to various cities, such as New Orleans or Atlanta, according to Cox.
Dine-in restaurants will also be permitted to increase capacity to 50% on May 22 as bars and wine tasting rooms open to accommodate 25% capacity.
“That’s really good news. I know our bars have been struggling and really looking forward to opening,” Cox said.
As the community navigates this evolving environment, Cox emphasized the importance of supporting locally owned businesses. Many have utilized online shopping in an effort to comply with stay-at-home orders; however, local retail has taken a hit.
“We need to shop local as much as we can because we want these businesses to be around,” Cox said. “I’m not exaggerating We have businesses that are on that hairy edge—that if they don’t get the sales, they’re not going to be able to stay open.”
The city is also working to connect residents who may be financially struggling with local resources. Cox mentioned Lake Travis Crisis Ministries and Lake Travis One as two organizations providing individuals with food or other necessities during the epidemic.
In the last month, the state has also ramped up testing. According to Cox, this has led officials to focus more on the test’s positivity rates rather than the number of daily cases. In April, the state’s average positivity rate was 13.8%, and May’s positivity rate so far is reported at 4.97%.
“With more testing, you’re going to have more positive cases,” Cox said.
While Lakeway does not currently have access to localized positivity rates, Cox did inform residents there are currently 45 positive cases in the Lake Travis region, 10 of which are considered active.
“I can’t give you a positivity rating for our area because we don’t have any of that data,” Cox said. “What I could tell you is [the rate] did grow week over week in the area.”
Approaching Memorial Day weekend, Cox drew attention to the city’s virtual celebration. Viewers can tune in to the city’s website at 8:30 a.m. May 25 for a video ceremony.
The event, featuring Lakeway and Bee Cave police officers, Daughters of the American Revolution and more, was produced by Lakeway Communications Director Jarrod Wise.