AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott announced a slew of business reopenings Monday, increasing capacity for some that have been open for weeks while allowing others like bars to open for the first time Friday.

Starting Monday, child care services, businesses in office buildings, and additional personal care services, like tatoo studios and message parlors, may reopen. By Friday, restaurants may increase their capacity to 50% and bars may open their doors to in-person customers at 25% occupancy.

A slew of entertainment venues may also reopen Friday, including bowling alleys, bingo halls, rodeos, zoos, skate rinks, aquariums and natural caverns.

On May 31, summer camps and professional sports may resume. Professional basketball, baseball, auto racing, football, golf, softball and tennis leagues may apply for approval to host events without in-person spectators.

“Let’s be clear, COVID-19 still exists in Texas,” Abbott said from the Texas Capitol.

The increased capacity for restaurants comes a little over two weeks after they were allowed to open their doors on May 1 and about a week after hair and nail salons, pools and more could reopen. Gyms, non-essential manufacturers and more are also permitted to reopen in-person at limited capacity today.

Texas’ COVID-19 cases

The additional reopenings come days after Texas saw its highest daily totals of new COVID-19 cases and deaths last week.

On Saturday, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported 1,801 new cases — the highest single-day increase the state has seen. Abbott credited more than 700 cases in the Amarillo area to a “surge response team” that began testing employees in meat packing facilities in the Panhandle.

Two days earlier the state had hit another grim record, with a single-day high of 58 COVID-19 related deaths reported on Thursday.

An increase in confirmed cases is likely to follow an increase in testing, as the state ramps up its capabilities and tests in targeted areas, Abbott has said. But the state still has yet to consistently meet its goal of conducting 30,000 tests a day. It only hit that threshold three times, most recently on Saturday with 32,479 new tests reported.

Abbott has emphasized that downward trends in the rate of hospitalizations and positive cases are some of the most important metrics he’s assessing. While daily hospitalizations and cases have fluctuated, the state has seen an downward trend in both.

Infectious disease experts have said that while they’re encouraged Texas is taking an incremental approach at reopening, sufficient time between phases is needed to assess how loosening restrictions is affecting the virus’ spread.

Abbott’s announcement earlier this month that beauty services could reopen came four days after malls, restaurants, retail stores and more began operating in-person with limited occupancy.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.


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