The Tuesday announcement is the second phase of Texas’ reopening and comes 10 days earlier than the governor’s original mid-May projection. Initially, Abbott said he would loosen more business restrictions May 18 as long as the state saw "two weeks of data to confirm no flare-up of COVID-19."
More reopenings — gyms, nonessential manufacturers and offices — are set for May 18. Last week, Abbott promised that bars would also be opened soon. However, on Tuesday, he stopped short of putting a date on allowing bars to reopen because experts are still figuring out how to do so safely.
Here’s how this next round of reopenings will work.
Hair salons, barbershops, nail salons and tanning salons
All beauty services should use disposable supplies when possible. Any nondisposable supplies must be fully sanitized between customers.
The governor’s task force advises shops to screen all workers and customers at the door for temperature and symptoms. Customers are required to wash their hands upon entrance. Shops should have a wash station, offer disposable towels and have a touchless trash can.
Workers can refuse to serve anybody they suspect to be sick or contagious.
Everyone in the shop is recommended to wear a face mask or face covering. The only exceptions are customers getting a service, like a shave, where their faces have to be visible. Customers should have their masks on immediately before and after the service.
Workers must wear gloves and switch them out between clients. But workers are exempted from wearing gloves if they impede the service. In that case, stylists must wash their hands right before touching a customer.
Workers should be notified of new COVID-19 procedures and required to sign a written statement agreeing to adhere to them.
Appointments should be scheduled in advance so shops can limit the number of people in the building at a time. Walk-in clients and those waiting for their appointments should wait in their cars or outside. Clients cannot bring any extra people to their appointment, including children.
Indoor and outdoor swimming pools can operate at 25% capacity starting Friday. Interactive water venues, like water parks and splash pads, are still closed.
The reopening of public swimming pools will be at the discretion of local governments.
Gyms and exercise facilities
On May 18, gyms and other exercise facilities can reopen at 25% occupancy, a percentage that doesn’t include workers.
Workout equipment should be spaced out to allow at least 6 feet between patrons, and cleaning supplies should be placed throughout the facility to clean off equipment after use. Locker and shower facilities must remain closed.
Patrons should wear gloves that fully cover their wrists and fingers while exercising and should wear face masks. They should also clean off machines and exercise equipment like free weights after use and sanitize any equipment brought from home.
Workers should be at least 6 feet apart when possible and should wear face masks or face coverings. The governor’s task force asks facilities with more than 10 workers at a time to choose a person in charge of enforcing health protocols.
Gym-goers should keep a 6-foot distance from anybody 65 and older, though these individuals are advised to stay home.
On May 18, nonessential manufacturing facilities can operate at 25% occupancy, but workers should be 6 feet apart when possible. The governor’s task force asks manufacturing facilities to provide physical dividers if following social distancing guidelines isn’t possible.
Workers should also wear face coverings and be provided disinfecting products like hand sanitizer and wipes. Shifts and break times should be staggered to minimize interaction.
The governor’s task force asks manufacturers with more than 10 workers at a time to choose a person in charge of enforcing health protocols.
Starting May 18, offices can have up to five employees in the office at a time or 25% of the total office workforce — whichever number is greater — provided they maintain social distancing.
Employees should keep at least 6 feet apart from each other when possible and follow other health measures like wearing face coverings.
The governor’s task force asks employers to continue encouraging employees to work from home if possible. Employers should implement alternate schedules for employees who go into the office.
There should only be four people inside a standard-sized elevator at a time. Those people should wear masks when inside the elevator and stay in separate corners of the space. People with disabilities can ride the elevator alone or with a caregiver.
Buildings should consider getting self-cleaning covers for elevator buttons and must make sure all stairways are clear for use.