With social distancing standards in place, Texas salons and barbershops will be allowed to reopen May 8 followed by gyms, nonessential manufacturers and businesses located in office buildings May 18, Gov. Greg Abbott announced in a press conference May 5.

"Effective May 8—this Friday—cosmetology salons, barbershops, hair salons, nail salons and tanning salons are able to open," Abbott said during the press conference. "There are rules in the best policies manual that we have provided that all of these should consult."

Some of those rules include limiting one customer per stylist unless the individual is waiting for service, using an appointment-only system, maintaining 6 feet of separation between stations and ensuring both the stylist and customer wear face masks.

"One of the apprehensions and concerns about opening up barber shops and hair salons and similar types of businesses was the fact that people operating the business as well as the customer—they're very close to each other as that service is provided," Abbott said. "The only safe way that you can go about providing this service, while ensuring that we're doing everything possible to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, would be for both the person providing the service and and the customer to wear face masks."

Additionally, Abbott announced gyms and exercise facilities will be allowed to reopen beginning May 18 if proper social distancing measures are in place.

"Initially, [gyms and exercise facilities] can open up to 25% capacity for the gym component," he said. "For the initial time period until we're able both get better strategies and get better control of COVID-19, showers and locker rooms must remain closed during this first phase, all equipment must be disinfected after each use [and] customers should wear gloves that cover the whole hands and fingers."

Abbott added nonessential manufacturers will also be allowed to open beginning May 18 with a 25% capacity and staggered workforce. Abbott said if 6 feet of separation cannot be maintained between individuals, the businesses must implement dividers between workstations, such as plexiglass or something similar.

Likewise, businesses that are housed in office buildings will also be allowed to reopen May 18, he said.

"[Office-based businesses] can open up to the greater of either of these two numbers: five employees or 25% of the workforce, provided that the employees maintain appropriate social distancing," he said.

One business sector Abbott said will remain closed for the foreseeable future is bars, as he said the state is still working with local bar owners to implement best practices prior to reopening those businesses.

"Just as we showed we can work very rapidly with regard to responding to hair salons and barbershops, we want to hear from bars about the types of strategies that you can use ... to prevent the transmission of COVID-19," Abbott said.

While salons, gyms, nonessential manufacturers and office-based businesses are allowed to reopen this month, Abbott reiterated it is up to each business owner's own discretion on when best to safely reopen.

"No one is being required to open up. Every owner of every salon should use their own best judgment about when it is going to be best for them to safely reopen, whether it's May 8 or sometime after May 8," he said.

Abbott also issued the following further clarifications on his previous executive order:

  • Funerals, memorials, burials and weddings are all treated the same as church services that have limited seating arrangements.

  • Wedding receptions should follow the same protocol as restaurants.

  • Beaches, lakes and rivers—including river rafting—should follow the same standards as parks.

  • Restaurant's 25% seating capacity only applies to indoor seating; however, social distancing standards still apply to outdoor seating.