Beginning May 1, Texas and Ohio will relax their stay-at-home orders and allow businesses to reopen as the spread of the novel coronavirus appears to slow. Texas will allow retail stores, restaurants and movie theaters to gradually reopen beginning May 1, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday. Ohio will begin reopening retail stores on May 12 but will allow several industries, like construction and manufacturing, to return to work before then, announced Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.
Texas To Reopen On A Tiered Schedule
In Texas, malls, restaurants and movie theaters, along with museums and libraries, will be allowed to open at 25% capacity beginning May 1.
“Because of your efforts, the COVID-19 infection rate has been on the decline for the past 17 days,” Abbott said in a press conference Monday, as reported by KFOX14. “[The stay-at-home order] has done its job to slow the growth of COVID-19 and I will let it expire as scheduled. Now it’s time to set a new course. A course that responsibly opens up business in Texas.”
The order supersedes all local orders. Individual businesses will not be forced to reopen, and vulnerable populations are asked to remain at home.
Abbott also announced Monday that counties with fewer than five cases will have looser restrictions in the reopening process. This exception would apply to just under half the counties in the state of Texas. It’s unclear if these counties will be required to complete a minimum number of tests to ensure that their case counts are, in fact, fewer than five.
This announcement comes a week after Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said, “[t]here are more important things than living, and that’s saving this country for my children and grandchildren and saving this country for all of us” in an appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight.
The governor’s complete announcement is available in full at KFOX14.
Ohio Is Following Suit & Beginning to Reopen May 1
Beginning May 1, all health care procedures that do not require an overnight hospital stay can resume in Ohio, according to FOX8. This presumably includes abortion procedures, which both Ohio and Texas banned or severely restricted in response to the COVID-19 crisis. General office spaces will be allowed to reopen on May 4, as will the manufacturing, distribution and construction industries.
Face coverings are still required, and schools, restaurants and beauty services will remain closed until further notice.
These announcements come after Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia announced the state would begin reopening last week, prompting widespread concern. The New York Times reported that Georgia has one of the lowest testing rates in the nation and that Kemp’s announcement comes as cases in the state continue to increase.
President Donald Trump issued a tweet distancing himself from Kemp’s decision:
He wrote, “I (or @VP) never gave Governor Brian Kemp an OK on those few businesses outside of the Guidelines. FAKE NEWS! Spas, beauty salons, tattoo parlors, & barber shops should take a little slower path, but I told the Governor to do what is right for the great people of Georgia (& USA)!”
In Texas, 290,517 tests have yielded 25,516 confirmed cases and 672 deaths as of April 27, according to Worldometer. In Ohio, there have been 119,391 tests with 16,325 confirmed cases and 753 deaths.