Editor's note: This story was updated to provide clarification and context on the April 30 expiration of the statewide stay-at-home order in Texas.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo signed a new version of her Stay Home-Work Safe order May 1 in alignment with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's more relaxed orders issued in April, which allows certain businesses to reopen and operate at 25% capacity.
Hidalgo's amended order, which now runs through 11:59 p.m. May 20, directly references an April 30 opinion from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton that specifies which businesses are to remain closed, including bars; gyms; public swimming pools; interactive amusement venues, such as bowling alleys; massage establishments; tattoo and piercing studios; and salons. Communal playgrounds and park benches remain closed, and contact sports remain prohibited.
Although a statewide stay-at-home order in Texas expired April 30, the Harris County order calls on all Texans to continue to minimize social gatherings and stay home aside from essential travel and trips to businesses that were reopened under Gov. Abbott's order. The order similarly encourages residents to wear face coverings in public without making it an outright requirement. Gov. Abbott previously said his orders on the subject trump local orders.
"We need to remain vigilant for a phased reopening to work," Hidalgo wrote in a May 2 tweet.
I've signed a NEW stay-home work-safe order. Non-essential Harris County businesses and others that were not "reopened" by the Governor's order need to stay closed through May 20th. We need to remain vigilant for a phased reopening to work. pic.twitter.com/ppykvLeLkj
— Lina Hidalgo (@LinaHidalgoTX) May 2, 2020
Harris County also launched a new system for residents to report violations, including businesses that should not be open and businesses operating at more than 25% capacity.
Gov. Abbott previously stated that a second phase of reopening could take place May 18 depending on trends in new coronavirus cases. The second phase could potentially include the reopening of bars, salons and gyms. Venues that were allowed to reopen in Phase 1—restaurants, retailers, movie theaters and malls—could also see limits on capacity expand to 50%.
Harris County's new order was issued the same day Houston-area businesses and restaurants began reopening under the Phase 1 guidelines.
A roundup of business updates in Houston can be found here.