Texas enters phase two of reopening
By Wesley Gardner
Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday announced the next set of businesses set to reopen as Texas enters into phase two of the statewide plan to gradually reopen the economy while still fighting the spread of COVID-19.
Abbott said childcare facilities can reopen immediately, bars can open on Friday with limited capacity and sporting events can return without fans at the end of the month.
Abbott also noted he would permit restaurants to operate at 50 percent capacity starting Friday, up from 25 percent permitted now.
In addition to bars, Abbott said several other businesses will be allowed to reopen Friday, including bowling alleys, bingo halls, skating rinks, rodeos, zoos and aquariums, though they will only be allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity.
For bars, the state is recommending parties be capped at six individuals and that those parties practice social distancing with other groups presents. Dancing is discouraged.
Professional sports – including basketball, baseball, car racing, football, golf, softball and tennis — will also be allowed to resume operations starting May 31 but will first be required to apply for approval from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the state is reporting 48,693 positive cases of COVID-19, resulting in 1,347 fatalities. Abbott noted that the state has been administering roughly 25,000 tests a day. To date, Texas has tested roughly 723,000 tests total, meaning about 6.7 percent of those being tested have tested positive for COVID-19.
Locally, Caldwell County now has 39 confirmed positive cases with no deaths. County officials are still waiting on results from a drive-through test site held on May 11 that conducted an additional 49 tests.
Domingo Sanchez, owner of El Rey Bar and Nightclub in Lockhart said he’s ready to see his bar’s patrons return on Friday.
“Looking forward to it,” he said. “It’s been tough times.”
Sanchez noted that customers will be counted as they arrive to ensure the bar remains at 25 percent capacity, which is 70 people. Guests inside the bar will be required to keep their distance from other parties.
On Monday, gyms were allowed to reopen throughout the state at 25 percent capacity.
According to Becky Janke, who owns Snap Fitness in Lockhart with her husband, reopening has a been a smooth and welcomed process.
“It’s been going really well,” said Janke. “Everybody who’s coming in, they’re glad to be here. The requirements that we’re requesting, they’re ok with them and they’re happy to be back in.”
The gym is currently operating on reduced hours, opening from 6 a.m. to noon and 2-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
The state mandated that all gyms reopening require their customers to wear gloves and remain six feet away from other customers while working out, though Janke said they gym has implemented a few additional safety measures.
Janke noted all gym customers are required to use hand sanitizer before they put on their gloves, in addition to using disinfectant located at each machine to clean the equipment both before and after they use it.
Also, gym members must limit their workouts to 45 minutes and bring a refillable bottle to fill from the water fountain. Water fountain use is restricted to filling bottles.
Janke also noted that the gym has suspended its 30-day cancellation notice for members, allowing them to cancel on the spot if they choose. Customers also have the option to freeze their accounts if they don’t want to cancel.
“We’re just trying to be flexible because we know some people just aren’t ready to come back yet,” said Janke.
More than anything, Janke said reopening has been great because it allows to visit with their gym members again.
“We love seeing our friends again,” said Janke. “You see people every day or every other day when they come in, and we’ve just really been missing everybody.”