Phase 3 of Texas reopening now in effect
By Wesley Gardner
Gov. Greg Abbott announced last week Phase 3 for Texas’ reopening of businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, allowing most to now operate at 50 percent capacity.
While restaurants were already allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity, Abbott said they are now permitted to increase individual party sizes from six to 10 people. He also noted they will be allowed to increase their capacity to 75 percent beginning June 12.
“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 a statement.
Abbott also noted that outdoor college sports are now allowed to resume operations at 50 percent capacity. Professional outdoor sports will also now be allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity.
Amusement parks and carnivals are also among the business that are allowed to immediately operate at 50 percent capacity, though only if they are located in counties with fewer than 1,000 cases.
Abbott’s executive order also exempts certain businesses from occupancy limitations, which include:
Any services identified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in its Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce; religious services;
Local government operations;
Recreational sports programs for youths and adults.
In addition, hair salons, barbershops, nail salons, massage establishments, and other personal care services — e.g., tanning salons, tattoo studios, etc. — may operate without any occupancy limitation as long as six feet of social distancing can be maintained between workstations.
The order also states that the 50 percent occupancy limitation does not apply to outdoor areas, events, or establishments, except for professional, collegiate, or similar sporting events, swimming pools, water parks, museums and libraries, zoos, aquariums, natural caverns and rodeos and equestrian events.
Outside of those outdoor events and venues, the order allows the county judge or mayors to impose restrictions for any outdoor gatherings anticipated to draw more than 500 people.
Additionally, the Phase 3 reopening of driver license offices across the state of Texas has begun, expanding the number of locations now open to residents.
All reopened Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) offices are offering limited services due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently, DPS services are limited to first-time applicants, those applying for a commercial driver license (CDL) or taking a CDL skills exam, and those needing a learning permit or ID card.
Anyone in need of those services will be required to schedule an appointment before going to the office.
As of Tuesday, Texas has now had 77,253 coronavirus cases, including 1,853 deaths, according to the latest data from the Department of State Health Services. The state has administered 1,302,049 tests, meaning the positivity rate is roughly 5.9 percent.
Locally, Caldwell County now has 78 confirmed cases of COVID-19, resulting in zero deaths. Thirty-two of those individuals have recovered. Seven of the active cases have been hospitalized, while the remainder have been quarantined.
On Tuesday, the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) and the Texas Military Department (TMD), conducted COVID-19 testing at the five nursing home facilities in Caldwell County, including the Luling Care Center, Magnolia Living and Rehabilitation (Luling), Parkview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center (Lockhart), Chisolm Trail Nursing and Rehabilitation Center (Lockhart) and Diversicare of Luling.
Officials noted the round of nursing home testing was conducted at the request of Gov. Abbott to ensure any potential clusters of COVID-19 cases in nursing homes is quickly detected and contained. A total of 624 nursing home residents and employees were tested in Caldwell County. The Office of Emergency Management expects to receive the results by the end of next week.
The OEM has also requested two additional drive-thru COVID-19 test sites for next week. If approved, the test sites will be located in Dale and Luling.