Texas Gov. Greg Abbott continues to lift coronavirus-related business restrictions.
In a June 3 news release, Abbott announced Phase 3 of his Open Texas plan. Under Phase 3, which went into effect immediately, Abbott said nearly all businesses are able to operate at up to 50% capacity. The plan also allows restaurants to open at 75% capacity beginning June 12. Details about Phase 3 can be found below.
Abbott said Phase 3 was developed with the advice of medical professionals and relies on coronavirus data in the state. The news release says that between May 26 and June 2, more than 45% of new cases were located in jails or prisons, meat-packing plants and nursing homes.
"The people of Texas continue to prove that we can safely and responsibly open our state for business while containing COVID-19 and keeping our state safe,” Abbott said in the release. "As anticipated, the new positive cases that we are seeing are largely the result of isolated hot spots in nursing homes, jails, and meat packing plants. Thanks to the effectiveness of our Surge Response Teams, we have the ability to contain those hot spots while opening up Texas for business.”
Phase 3 of the governor’s plan includes several upcoming dates dictating when different businesses can reopen.
- All businesses currently operating at 25% can expand their occupancy to 50%, with certain exceptions.
- Bars can increase their capacity to 50% as long as customers are seated.
- Amusement parks and carnivals can open at 50% in counties with less than 1,000 confirmed cases.
- Restaurants can expand their maximum table size from six to 10 people.
- Restaurants can operate at 75% capacity.
- Amusement parks and carnivals can open at 50% in counties with more than 1,000 confirmed cases.
Despite the ability to open at 75% capacity June 12, Judd Fruia, vice president of operations for Front Burner Group Dining, which owns several restaurants in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas, said small businesses are still limited in the number of customers they can seat because of requirements to space tables 6 feet apart.
"When we go from 50 to 75 [percent capacity], I can't really add any more tables because of the 6 feet rule," Fruia said. "What that does is more consumer confidence than anything."
The press release from the governor's office also states that Abbott’s executive order, issued in conjunction with Phase 3, makes special provisions for outdoor gatherings such as Fourth of July celebrations. However, the release says local officials and public health authorities should work together to establish safety procedures for such events.
All businesses are asked to follow health protocols from the Texas Department of State Health Services. Additionally, Abbott’s press release encourages residents to wear a face covering in public and to practice social distancing measures.