Explained: How Abbott plans to reopen Texas and differences from San Antonio, Bexar County orders

Breakdown of first phase of Gov. Abbott’s plan to reopen Texas economy

Understand: Phase 1 of reopening Texas

SAN ANTONIO – Gov. Greg Abbott’s Stay-at-Home executive order expired Thursday and the state has now entered the first phase of the his plan to reopen the Texas economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The City of San Antonio also voted on Thursday to approve new “Stay Home, Work Safe” orders.

In the video above, KSAT News at 9 breaks down what these two actions mean for San Antonio residents, and what will officially reopen in a limited capacity across the state this weekend.

Here are some more things to know:

Both orders are in effect through May 19.

The order for Bexar County says gatherings are still prohibited beyond your household and social distancing is still required in shared outdoor spaces or stores. People who violate the rule on gatherings can be fined or possibly face jail time.

Local residents must also continue wearing face coverings in places that they can not social distance from other people, like grocery stores or pharmacies.

But this is major difference from the state’s order, which supersedes local orders. Abbott announced residents can not be arrested or fined for not wearing face coverings.

Private stores can ask customers to leave if they are not wearing a mask.

When it comes to reopening businesses, Abbott said all Texas retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls are allowed to open Friday as long as they operate at 25 percent occupancy and follow social distancing guidelines.

Gyms, bars, barbershops, nail salons and public swimming pools all have to stay closed for now.

Dentists and other licensed health care professionals can resume services. Museums and libraries can reopen, but interactive exhibits have to stay closed.

Abbott also said churches could expand occupancy, and that sports like tennis or golf can resume as long as there are not more than four people playing together.

Abbott said that does not mean these businesses have to reopen and some have said they will not do so immediately.

There are also concerns from San Antonio health officials that Abbott’s plan to reopen Texas is premature.

“There are places in Texas that have hardly seen any cases where the population density is very low,” said Dr. Ruth Berggren, infectious disease specialist at UT-Health. “I think resuming business is a good idea and important for those places. San Antonio is different, we have a higher population density and we’re worried that this may be early.”

Despite these concerns, the state is moving ahead with this first phase.

The second phase would begin in mid-May if the state is able to maintain health care capacity and limit the spread or a new flare-up of COVID-19.


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About the Authors:

RJ Marquez is co-host of KSAT News Now and reports for Good Morning San Antonio. He's been at KSAT since 2010 and covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms, including his Spurs newsletter. RJ has reported stories for KSAT Explains.

Rick Medina is a Video News Editor at KSAT. A graduate of the University of Texas' prestigious Radio-Television-Film program, he has been in the news business for more than 20 years. Rick is also a documentary filmmaker, helming the award-winning film festival favorites, “The Opossum Begins” and “Amigoland.” He is originally from Brownsville.