BEAUMONT, Texas — Texas Governor Greg Abbott has announced that most of the state can re-open to 75% capacity next week.
Texans have shown that we can address the health and safety concerns of brought on by COVID-19 the governor said in a noon time news conference from Austin.
Beginning Monday, September 21, all retail stores, restaurants, gyms and offices can move forward to opening at 75% capacity the governor said.
Bars, however, will still not be able to re-open.
A small region of the state in South Texas where COVID-19 hospitalizations remain high will not be able to move forward the governor said.
Hospitals can immediately in the rest of the state can immediately return to offering elective surgeries and on September 24 nursing homes and care centers will be able to allow visitors providing caution is exercised.
Abbott stressed that Texans must continue safe practices including staying home if you’re sick, washing hands, wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing and increasing testing.
Texas will soon massively increase testing as the state is supposed to get millions of 15-minute tests per month for rapid testing Abbott said.
He stressed that hospitalizations are the most important data point when it comes to tracking COVID-19. When hospitalizations are low, it means we have better contained the virus and businesses can expand capacity.
Moving forward we will continue to consider all relevant factors and course-correct if needed he said.
We will rely on hospitalizations numbers he said. If COVID-19 hospitalizations rise to more than 15% this could point to serious spread and possibility to overrun hospital system the governor warned.
Some business owners were excited by the governor's hints at a possible wave of more reopenings.
After weeks of being closed, Soggy Bottom Saloon owner Bobby Parham is hoping the closures are coming to an end.
"I'm feeling hopeful, but I can't really go into the extreme planning stage of actually scheduling an open date,” Parham told 12News earlier in September. “That would come with me hiring bands, everything. So, it's hard. I wish he would give us a little more insight."
In Texas, bars and nightclubs are still closed. Restaurants can only operate at 50% capacity. Hair and nail salon capacity is limited because of 6-foot rules. Churches and places of worship are the same. Stores and other businesses are still heavily restricted and implement a variety of mask protocols, social distancing guidelines and plastic customer guards.