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Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Tuesday that gyms and other businesses will be permitted to reopen later this month amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"Texas is in a position to continue opening parts of our economy because of the efforts and determination of the people of Texas," said Governor Abbott at Tuesday's press conference. "Over the past month, Texans have worked together to contain the spread of COVID-19 by following social distancing practices and staying at home whenever possible. As we move forward, I urge all Texans to continue following these social distancing guidelines and the health standards we have provided. With every Texan doing their part, we will contain COVID-19, we will unleash our entrepreneurs, and we will make it through this challenge together."

Per the governor’s announcement, wedding venues, along with services required to conduct weddings, may immediately open. Weddings held indoors other than at a church, congregation, or house of worship must limit occupancy to 25 percent. Wedding reception services may also resume, but facilities must limit their occupancy to 25 percent of the total listed occupancy. These occupancy limits do not apply to the outdoor areas of a wedding reception, or to outdoor wedding receptions.

Starting Friday, May 8th, cosmetology salons, hair salons, barber shops, nail salons and shops, and other establishments where licensed cosmetologists or barbers practice their trade, may open, but all such salons, shops, and establishments must ensure at least six feet of social distancing between operating work stations. The Governor's Office also notes that tanning salons may re-open under the same limitations. Also starting May 8th, swimming pools may open subject to certain limitations, including to their occupancy or operating levels.

Included in Tuesday's announcement was re-opening information for commercial office buildings. Beginning Monday, May 18th, office buildings may open with the greater of five or less individuals, or 25 percent of the total office workforce. Appropriate social distancing must be maintained as part of Governor Abbott's order.

In addition, the governor's order notes gyms, exercise facilities, and exercise classes may also open on May 18 with no more than 25 percent occupancy. Locker rooms and shower facilities will remain closed, but restrooms may open. Non-essential manufacturing services may also open on May 18 but facilities must limit their occupancy to 25 percent.

Additional information can be found on the Open Texas webpage maintained by DSHS.

As part of Tuesday's announcement, Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath provided new guidance on class of 2020 graduation ceremonies for Texas public school districts. The TEA is providing four different ways for schools to celebrate their graduating seniors, and each district is at liberty to determine if any of these options best serve the needs and desires of their community:

  • Completely virtual ceremonies that take place entirely online, with the use of videoconference or other technologies.
  • Hybrid ceremonies, which consist of a compilation of videos of students being recognized in person as they celebrate graduation in small groups.
  • Vehicle ceremonies, in which students and their families wait in their cars while other graduates are recognized one at time with their families alongside them.
  • Outdoor in-person ceremonies, which are currently permitted for counties as follows:
    • Between May 15 and May 31, an outdoor ceremony may take place in a rural county that has an attestation as described in the Governor’s Report to Open Texas that remains in effect 7 days prior to the ceremony.
    • An outdoor ceremony may take place in any Texas county on or after June 1.

Full details of the TEA's graduation ceremony guidance can be found on the TEA website.

Governor Abbott continued to urge Texans to continue to practice social distancing in their daily lives.

As of May 5th, 33,369 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Texas, with 1,888 of those admitted to hospitals across the state. According to Texas Health and Human Services, 906 people have died of the virus. The state of Texas has conducted 427,210 coronavirus tests. According to ABC 13 in Houston, that test count is among the lowest in the U.S.

Back on May 1st, Gov. Abbott's executive order allowing several different businesses across Texas to reopen went into effect. The order, issued April 27th, allowed "all retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and malls are permitted to reopen on Friday, May 1. These services must limit their capacity to 25 percent of their listed occupancy. Within shopping malls, the food-court dining areas, play areas, and interactive displays and settings must remain closed."

Furthermore, according to the order, museums and libraries in Texas, sans their interactive areas, were allowed to reopen with a 25 percent occupancy limit. All schools were closed for the remainder of the school year. The full executive order is available to read at the Office of the Texas Governor's official website.

Several restaurants in Lubbock have already reopened as a result of Gov. Abbott's order, though many more opted to keep their dining rooms closed.

A local small business protest in April pushed back on both Gov. Abbott's and Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope's decision to close restaurants, bars and other "nonessential" businesses. Similar protests have taken place across the United States.