AUSTIN, Texas - On June 3, Gov. Greg Abbott announced the third phase of Texas' plan to safely reopen the economy amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Under Phase III, effective immediately, all Texas businesses will be allowed to operate at up to 50% capacity with limited exceptions. Furthermore, businesses previously allowed to operate at 100% capacity may continue to do so.
"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,” said Abbott. "As anticipated, the new positive cases that we are seeing are largely the result of isolated hot spots in nursing homes, jails, and meatpacking plants. Thanks to the effectiveness of our Surge Response Teams, we have the ability to contain those hot spots while opening up Texas for business."
As of now, most outdoor areas are not subject to capacity limits and the state recommends that customers and businesses should continue to follow minimum standard health protocols laid out by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).
"As we begin Phase III, I ask all Texans and Texas businesses to continue following the standard health protocols and to heed the guidance of our state and federal officials who continue to closely monitor COVID-19. If we remain vigilant, we will continue to mitigate the spread of this virus, protect public health, and get more Texans back to work and their daily activities," Abbott said.
FOX 7 Austin spoke to bar owner Bob Woody on Wednesday afternoon about the increase in capacity and he said it makes it a difference for bars and restaurants operating with no outside seating or a patio.
“It’s a life changer for them,” Woody said. “Now they can get to a point where they are breaking even or even making a little bit of money.”
And that difference is can be a step towards normalcy.
“We want to get to normal,” he said. “That’s the deal. These are the little things, glimpse of where we are headed. And all it is – is going back to where we’ve been.”
Phase III Timeline
Effective June 3:
- All businesses currently operating at 25% capacity can expand their occupancy to 50% with certain exceptions.
- Bars and similar establishments may increase their capacity to 50% as long as patrons are seated.
- Amusement parks and carnivals in counties with less than 1,000 confirmed positive cases may open at 50% capacity.
- Restaurants may expand their maximum table size from 6 to 10 persons.
Effective June 12:
- Restaurants may expand their occupancy levels to 75%.
- Counties with 10 or less active COVID-19 cases may expand their occupancy limits to 75%. Counties that fit this category but have not previously filed an attestation with DSHS will need to do so.
Effective June 19:
- Amusement parks and carnivals in counties with more than 1,000 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 may open at 50% capacity.
The governor's office has stated that other special provisions have been made for outdoor gatherings, such as the Fourth of July, as long as local and local public health officials collaborate on safe standards.
Open Texas Checklists: Phase III – June 3, 2020
FOX 7 Austin is working to keep you up to date with coronavirus, with both local and national developments. You can also get the latest COVID-19 news from around the country at coronavirusnow.com.