Gov. Greg Abbott will let the statewide stay-at-home order expire Thursday, paving the way for the first phase of reopening measures.
Retail stores, restaurants, theaters and malls can reopen Friday with limited occupancy, Abbott said Monday afternoon.
He said museums and libraries can also reopen as long as interactive areas stay closed.
Businesses will be limited to 25% occupancy, the governor said. That occupancy rate can be criminally enforced or the business could lose its operating license for violating the order.
After a two-week period, if there is no spike in cases of the novel coronavirus, other businesses can begin to open, Abbott said.
If COVID-19 doesn't spread, retail stores and other businesses can increase occupancy to 50%.
The governor said no business is required to reopen.
"Again this is permission to open, not a requirement," Abbott said.
But Abbott said people need to continue practicing social distancing.
"Now more than ever, Texans must continue safe distancing practices," the governor said.
Some of the local restaurants are going to open for dine-in, but most managers reached this week aren’t sure how it is going to work. Miguelito’s Mexican Restaurant and Babe’s Chicken Dinner are two of the busiest establishments in Sanger. Rose Chavez, manager of the Sanger Miguelito’s said Tuesday she didn’t think it would be cost effective to open the dining at only 25% occupancy. “We can accomodate up to 160 people and with only being able to let in 40 would be difficult. I don’t know what we would do with the people waiting for a table and still be able to practice social distancing.”
Chavez said they miss the customers. “We love our customers and hope they understand why we aren’t opening the dining at this time. We don’t want to make people mad, and we want to serve everybody. It’s just frustrating, because we have all these employees and how do we schedule them for only a quarter of the people. We love our community and want to open, but now is not the right time.” The cost of utilties, sales tax, etc... have to be considered by these restaurant owners. When reached Tuesday, Babe’s said they will be open for dine-in “We can only have 50 people total at one time and no parties larger than six people,” said the hostess on the phone. Babe’s waiting area is outside in a separate room, next to Gypsy Cowgirl. This unique set up can accomodate the people waiting, unlike most restaurants. Lone Oak Cafe owner Pat Wolter said on Wednesday morning, they will not be open for dine-in on Friday. “We will see what happens, if it goes well, and in two weeks we might open if the occupancy is 50% or more. I’m not ready to be the first person to jump off the end of the dock, not knowing how deep the water is. We will continue our to-go, curbside service.” Fuzzy’s Taco Shop is waiting another two weeks for Phase II, hopefully allowing for 50% or more occupancy. Chicken Express is not opening as well. Southern BBQ hasn’t decided yet, as of Wednesday (before press deadline for the Sanger News). Roma’s manager isn’t sure if it’s good or not to open dining. He said they will put a sign up outside, once he makes a decision about dining-in and post on Facebook. Parker Brother’s Steak House will be open for dining, starting Friday at lunch, as is Bolivar BBQ. Pellegrino's Italian Restaurant is waiting a few weeks.
All the restaurants mentioned above will continue with to go orders and curbside service. Texas leaders also encourage everyone to wear masks or facial coverings but stopped short of requiring the measure. Abbott said no local government can fine or penalize people for not wearing a mask. There are still some businesses that are not allowed to reopen, including barbershops, salons, gyms and bars. The governor said medical experts advised that it's not safe for those to open yet, but he hopes they can reopen mid-May. Abbott also said that officials are working on plans to determine how to safely open summer camps for kids. As part of the reopening process, Abbott said it's important to track and trace cases of COVID-19. During the next two weeks, the state will add another 1,000 tracers to track how cases of the coronavirus have spread. The governor said the state will have the capability to test as many as 25,000 people a day by the middle of the month. Abbott said he presented the reopening plan to Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator.