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Day cares reopen immediately; bars reopen May 22

Bars may reopen for business as of Friday, May 22 in Texas, announced Governor Greg Abbott at a press conference Monday May 18. That includes tasting rooms at wineries, distilleries, and breweries.

Child care centers can reopen immediately and bars can reopen on Friday, May 22, with limited capacity, according to the latest round of executive orders issued by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday, May 18. Also, restaurants, which are now allowed to operate at 25 percent occupancy, may begin serving up to 50 percent capacity on May 22, and sporting events can return at the end of the month, only without fans in the stands.

Two regions that have developed as hot spots in the COVID-19 pandemic have been exempted from these new rules. Amarillo and El Paso will have to wait until at least May 29 for any further reopenings. Surge response teams have been sent to both areas to contain further outbreaks. Amarillo has recorded a large number of cases because of outbreaks in its meat packing plants.

Child care centers have been open since restrictions were first put in place, but only for the children of essential workers. This reopening allows additional children as more and more people return to work in what have been deemed non-essential businesses, such as hair and nail salons and gyms.

“One thing that we all know: An important part of reopening is access to child care. So, starting immediately, child care services are able to open,” Abbott said at the May 18 briefing. “That also includes Boys and Girls clubs and YMCA programs.”

Reopening Friday with bars will be bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, rodeos, zoos, and aquariums. All will be restricted to 25 percent capacity and have to follow social distancing and sanitation rules. Dancing will be discouraged at bars.

On May 31, youth sports camps and programs such as Little League will be able to resume. Also, other youth camps can reopen, including day camps, Scouting, vacation bible schools, and 4-H camps.

On June 1, summer schools can begin as well.

Abbott said he was reopening the state based on scientific data, which his newly appointed task force reviews daily. Testing has increased substantially but has not yet reached Abbott’s stated goal of 30,000 tests a day. Currently, the state tests around 25,000 a day.

“As we have advanced toward phase two of opening business in Texas, we have focused on several key metrics,” Abbott said. “One is the positivity rate.”

The positivity rate measures the percentage of people tested against the number who test positive for COVID 19.

“To state the obvious, as testing increases, so will the raw number of people testing positive,” Abbott continued. “What matters most is the percentage of the people who test positive.”

To begin reopening businesses, the positive rate must show a downward trajectory over a 14-day period. A second requirement is maintaining a stable hospital capacity.

“On April 13, the seven-day rolling average was 18.3 percent,” Abbott said of the positivity rate. “Since then, that rate has steadily declined to about five percent.”

As for hospital capacity, the numbers also show stability.

“In fact, get this, as of yesterday, we had fewer people hospitalized for COVID since April 19,” Abbott said. “If our capacity ever gets compromised, we will take swift corrective action.”

Details on which businesses can now open under what restrictions can be found at Gov.texas.gov/opentexas.

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