Governor Abbott Introduces 3-Phase Plan to Help Get Texans Back to Work and Open Churches
Austin, Texas – After a press conference today about steps to reopen the Texas economy, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton released updated guidelines for churches and houses of worship today. Governor Abbott also announced at the press conference the freedom for churches to be open.
Texas Values President and Attorney Jonathan Saenz said: “We are thankful that important steps have been taken to open more portions of the Texas economy and that Governor Abbott has confirmed that churches can have in-person services.”
Additional issues covered in the press conference included Governor Abbott’s Executive Order that required everyone in the state of Texas to shelter in place which will expire Thursday, April 30. After the Executive Order expiration on April 30, the state will enter Phase 1 of a 3-phase plan to reopen the Texas economy.
Phase 1, which begins Friday, May 1, will allow for all retail stores, restaurants, movie theatres and malls to reopen provided that these businesses limit their occupancy to no more than 25 percent of their capacity. Museums and libraries may also reopen; however, they must close interactive areas. The Governor also said that sole proprietors can safely return to work and all licensed healthcare professionals can resume providing healthcare.
There will be some precautions taken in Phase 1 such as encouraging persons 65 or older to remain at home if at all possible and a strong effort to protect those who are in senior centers and nursing homes.
Phase 2 is expected to occur May 18, provided that at least 2 weeks of data can show improvement in the containment of the virus. Hair salons, barbershops, bars, and gyms will remain closed for now, but the Governor hopes that improved conditions will allow for these businesses to open in mid-May.
Governor Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick both emphasize that while they suggest that people wear a mask, there is no mandate to wear a mask. According to the published state-level plan, no local government can impose fines or make rules that supersede the Governor.
Moreover, the Governor emphasized that there is no requirement to open. When the plan was introduced to Dr. Birx, the White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator, it was met with approval.