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Texas’ stay-at-home order to expire Thursday, businesses to reopen in phases starting Friday

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott detailed plans on Monday to reopen the state for business amid the coronavirus pandemic – allowing places like retail stores, restaurants and movie theaters to open up to customers at a limited capacity by Friday May 1.  Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said wearing masks will be encouraged, but will not be required.  The move by Abbot puts Texas – the country’s second-largest economy behind California – at the forefront of the movement to reopen state economies that have been basically brought to a standstill as the U.S. grapples with the outbreak of COVID-19.  “We’re not just going to pen up and hope for the best,” Abbott said during a news conference on Monday in Austin. “We’re going to open in way that will also contain the virus and keep us safe.”

He added: “A more strategic approach is required so that we don’t open only to close down again.”  Along with retail stores, restaurants and movie theaters, Abbott said that museums and libraries can also reopen on Friday at a 25 percent capacity. Sole proprietors of businesses can also open and doctors and dentists can resume normal operations as well.

Abbott added that hospitals will still have to keep 50 percent of their capacity for patients suffering from COVID-19.  Churches and places of worship, which were allowed to remain open during the state’s stay-at-home orders, are also allowed to expand their capacity provided safe social distancing measures are still enacted.  The governor’s plan, which he said has the backing of both state and federal health officials, is part of larger strategy in Texas to gradually reopen businesses. Abbott noted that by May 18, if there are no new spikes of contagion in Texas than he will move on to phase two of the plan, which allows businesses to operate at 50 percent capacity.

From Foxnews.com – The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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