Gov. Greg Abbott announces plan to reopen businesses, end stay-at-home order

Gov. Greg Abbott announced retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls will be permitted to operate with limited occupancy starting May 1. (Screenshot of April 27 press conference)
Gov. Greg Abbott announced retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls will be permitted to operate with limited occupancy starting May 1. (Screenshot of April 27 press conference)

Gov. Greg Abbott announced retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls will be permitted to operate with limited occupancy starting May 1. (Screenshot of April 27 press conference)

Following the staggered easing of restrictions previously enforced to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Greg Abbott announced at an April 27 press conference that retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls across Texas would be permitted to operate with limited occupancy starting May 1. He also confirmed he will not extend the statewide stay-at-home order slated to expire April 30.

The Texas Workforce Commission has processed a record-breaking number of unemployment claims since the coronavirus outbreak began, and Abbott said his goal is to get Texans back to work by safely reopening businesses.

“Millions of Texans have sacrificed their livelihoods as well as so many of their cherished moments in an unprecedented effort to prioritize the health and safety of our fellow Texans. It has been a collective effort to slow the spread of COVID-19,” he said. “Because of your efforts, the COVID-19 infection rate has been on the decline over the past 17 days. Because of your efforts—and especially the work of doctors and nurses and all health care providers—our hospitalization rate has held steady, and our hospital capacity has remained abundant.”

Abbott said the decisions made to gradually reopen the state’s economy are based on advice from doctors and data reporting the containment of COVID-19 in Texas. However, he said he encourages Texans to continue safe distancing practices and recommends wearing a face covering when in public.

The rate of individuals recovering from the virus will soon outpace the number of active cases, Abbott said. As of 2 p.m. April 27, there were 25,297 total confirmed cases statewide and of those, an estimated 11,170 had recovered, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

“It’s a fact: It’s hard to get rid of this virus because it is so contagious,” Abbott said. “So we’re not just going to open up and hope for the best. Instead, we will put measures in place that will help businesses open while also containing the virus and keeping Texans safe.”

Abbott explained the first phase of his plan will go into effect May 1, and officials will continue to monitor state data over the next several weeks with hopes of implementing the second phase as early as May 18.

Phase 1:

  • All retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls have the option to reopen May 1 as long as occupancy is limited to no more than 25%.

  • Museums and libraries will be permitted to open under the same 25% capacity requirement as long as interactive hands-on exhibits remain closed.

  • All licensed health care professionals are allowed to return to work with few restrictions. Licensed hospitals must still reserve 15% capacity for COVID-19 patients.

  • Churches and places of worship will be able to expand their capacity for operations.

  • Outdoor sports such as tennis and golf will be allowed as long as no more than four participants are playing together at the same time.

  • Businesses that will not be permitted to open at this time include barber shops and hair salons, bars and gyms. Abbott said his medical advisers have not yet deemed the opening of these businesses to be safe, but he is hopeful he will be able to take that step by mid-May.

  • Vulnerable populations such as the elderly are encouraged to stay home if possible during this time.

Phase 2:

  • Businesses allowed to open in Phase 1 would be able to increase their capacity to 50%, and the list of businesses allowed to operate would expand around May 18 as long as the virus remains contained, Abbott said.

Abbott also announced April 27 another 1,000 contact tracers will be deployed over the next two weeks. This system involves reaching out to individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, learning who they might have exposed while infected and asking those who have been exposed to quarantine for 14 days.

State parks reopened April 20 with social distancing stipulations, and Texas retailers were permitted to begin offering to-go services to limit customer interaction April 24. Abbott announced these plans April 17—the same day he said schools statewide would remain closed for the remainder of the academic year.

For a full list of guidelines to reopen businesses across the state, visit
By Danica Lloyd
Danica joined Community Impact Newspaper as a Cy-Fair reporter in May 2016 after graduating with a journalism degree from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. She became editor of the Cy-Fair edition in March 2020 and continues to cover education, local government, business, demographic trends, real estate development and nonprofits.


Harris County continues to report more confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Cy-Fair area. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Cy-Fair's COVID-19 case count surpasses 10,000 on Aug. 9

This includes about 3,600 active cases across the ZIP codes that fall within Cy-Fair ISD's boundaries.

Roughly $44 million in capital and intersection improvement projects are under design in Harris County Precinct 3, which covers parts of the Cy-Fair area, Katy, and west Houston. (Courtesy Fotolia)
TRANSPORTATION UPDATES: $44 million in road projects under design in Harris County Precinct 3

Project timelines are to be determined in most cases, but officials said they expect most of these projects will be approved to move forward.

Attendees sample a wide variety of global wines and cuisine during Wine & Food Week. (Courtesy Food & Vine Time Productions)
Wine & Food Week returns to The Woodlands and more news from the Houston area

Read business and community news from the Houston area.

Construction will be underway at Alys Crossing through March 2021. (Rendering courtesy Willowick Residential)
Units begin opening at Alys Crossing off Fry Road in Cypress

The new development joins several other multifamily projects that have opened or will open in the Cy-Fair area this summer.

The number of deaths reported has been declining for the past three week, according to the Texas Medical Center. (Community Impact staff)
Texas Medical Center: COVID-19 hospitalizations down 10% since Aug. 3

The number of deaths reported has been declining for the past three week, according to the Texas Medical Center.

Several Cy-Fair ISD teachers spoke before the board about their concerns with reopening schools this fall at the board's Aug. 6 meeting. (Courtesy Cy-Fair AFT)
Cy-Fair ISD officials respond to teacher concerns at Aug. 6 board meeting

Teachers at last night's board expressed health concerns around schools reopening, saying if students have the choice to learn remotely, teachers should be able to opt to teach from home.

Harris County leaders discussed this week whether to raise or lower property taxes. (Courtesy Fotolia)
UPDATED: Harris Co. commissioners eyeing property tax rates

This article was updated Aug. 8 to clarify that an 8% tax rate increase is not considered to be on the table by commissioners.

A mother and daughter visit at Seasons Assisted Living & Memory Care in Conroe earlier in the pandemic. (Courtesy Seasons Assisted Living & Memory Care)
Texas allows limited visitations to nursing homes, long-term care facilities

Facilities that meet the requirements will allow limited visitations, but you still will not be able to hug or kiss your loved one.

HomeAid Houston partnered with Boys and Girls Country to open three cottages in Hockley. (Courtesy Boys and Girls Country)
Builders partner to serve homeless population through nonprofit HomeAid Houston

Since launching in 2003, the organization has helped provide 20,000 beds for homeless individuals in the Houston area.

Cy-Fair ISD will offer in-person instruction in addition to a learning-from-home option in 2020-21. (Design by Katherine Borey/Community Impact Newspaper)
Most Cy-Fair ISD students opting for virtual instruction in 2020-21 according to early survey results

Initial survey results are in, but parents have until Aug. 25 to complete the questionnaire or change their original learning method selection.