Richard Davis April 29, 2020 COVID-19 UPDATE: Great news for Texas: the statewide stay at home order that Governor Greg Abbott issued last month will expire as scheduled at midnight on Thursday April 30, 2020! You may be wondering, “What does this mean for me? Can I get my hair cut, get a mani/pedi, walk around Target with my friends, or grab a beer?” You’re in luck; we have the answers you’re looking for! The following categories of businesses will re-open on Thursday, given they maintain their occupancy at no more than 25%: o Retail Stores o Restaurants o Movie Theaters o Malls o Museums o Libraries Each category of business listed above is now allowed to re-open, but business owners can decide if they want to reopen. Some local businesses, such as Margie’s Grill, have decided to keep their dining area closed for the time being due to the limited number of customers that could enter without exceeding the 25% capacity requirement. Other local businesses, such as Shipwreck Grill, are gearing up to reopen Friday for regular business hours. A local Facebook group, “BCS Meals and Deals,” will keep you up to date with the reopening of most local restaurants. Churches and places of worship can increase capacity but have been told to ensure vulnerable people (such as the elderly or those with chronic conditions) are encourage to continue watching online services. Governor Abbott is hopeful that the re-opening of Texas will help business resume and still ensure the protection of residents. He states, “If we remain focused on protecting the lives of our fellow Texans, we can continue to open the Lone Star State." Outdoor sports are allowed if there are no more than 4 players. Barbershops, hair salons, bars, and gyms are not to reopen Friday, but they could be allowed to reopen in mid-May during the reopening program's second phase. Limits on Guidelines: Malls and retailers must operate at 25% of maximum occupancy, and food courts and play areas in malls must remain closed. Restaurants must maintain social distancing, seat no more than six at a single table, and must comply with a list of safety and hygiene protocols. Movie theaters must keep at least two empty seats between parties in any row and leave every other row empty. Seats and other frequently touched areas must be sanitized between showings. Churches should continue to encourage at-risk members to watch or participate in services remotely, must designate an area inside their buildings for at-risk visitors, and keep at least two empty seats between worshippers, although members of the same household may sit adjacent to one another as in theaters. School Update: Schools still remain closed until the end of the 2019-2020 school year. Teachers and professors are allowed to enter study halls to give video guidance, perform authoritative obligations, and tidy up their rooms. State Parks: State parks are to begin “retail-to-go” operations starting on April 24, letting businesses deliver items to customers’ cars “or other locations to minimize contact.” State park visitors must wear face coverings and maintain at least six feet of separation from other each and maintain groups of no more than five while visiting. Medical: Medical practices can resume business as usual, subject to very few restrictions. Restrictions on elective surgery were also eased, allowing procedures that won’t “deplete the hospital capacity or the PPE needed to cope with COVID-19.” Medical facilities can start allowing procedures once the facility has certified it will reserve at least 25% of its capacity for COVID-19 patients and that it won’t request PPE from any public source for the duration of the pandemic. Self-quarantine after travel: The mandatory self-quarantine requirements from travelers entering the state from Louisiana has been eased. Self-quarantine requirements remain in effect for anyone who flies into Texas from California, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Washington, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, or Miami. In summary, you can begin to dine in at your favorite restaurants, visit a local museum, and attend church in person starting Friday! If all goes well, you can grab a beer, get a mani/pedi, or have a hair appointment in mid-May.