Texas governor will allow state's stay-at-home order to end on Thursday and open businesses Friday

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday he will allow...

Posted: Apr 27, 2020 2:03 PM
Updated: Apr 28, 2020 2:00 AM

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday he will allow his stay-at-home order for the Lone Star State to expire on Thursday, commencing a phased exit from the social distancing measures meant to mitigate the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Republican's new order, which supersedes local orders, will allow businesses like retail stores, malls, restaurants and theaters to reopen Friday but limits occupancy to 25%. The order will also allow libraries and museums to open.

Abbott noted that he wants barbershops, salons, gyms and bars open 'as soon as possible' and expects them to open no later than mid-May.

'Now it's time to set a new course, a course that responsibly opens up business in Texas,' Abbott said. 'We will open in a way that uses safe standards -- safe standards for businesses, for their employees as well as for their customers. Standards based upon data and on doctors.'

His announcements comes as more states plan phased reopenings of their economies, despite public health professionals having repeatedly stressed the dangers of relaxing social distancing measures too early.

Experts widely agree that to control the epidemic in the absence of strict social distancing measures, states and localities will need to build the capacity for additional testing and contact tracing -- something Texas medical and public health officials have told CNN the state isn't doing at a large enough scale to reopen.

That process of identifying new cases of Covid-19 and then tracking down and quarantining anyone who could have been infected by those newly identified cases would be crucial to returning to normal life.

But Abbott pushed back Monday, saying that the state 'should easily exceed our goal of 25,000 tests per day' by early May and that Dr. Deborah Birx -- the White House coronavirus response coordinator -- told him 'the Texas plan was great.'

CNN has reached out to Birx for comment.

Touting Texas' plan as the 'result of tremendous input,' Abbott said the state will not mandate but 'strongly recommend' that everyone wear a mask as businesses reopen.

'Now more than ever, Texans must remain committed to safe distancing practices that reduce the spread of Covid-19, and we must continue to rely on doctors and data to provide us with the safest strategies to restore Texans' livelihoods,' he said.

'We must also focus on protecting the most vulnerable Texans from exposure to Covid-19. If we remain focused on protecting the lives of our fellow Texans, we can continue to open the Lone Star State.'

Still, Abbott faces a unique challenge in reopening Texas, the world's 10th largest economy.

While previewing the state's strategy earlier this month, Abbott said a group of medical and economic experts would guide him through a series of incremental steps aimed at slowly reopening the state's economy.

'A more strategic approach is required to ensure that we don't reopen only to have to close down again, so consistent with CDC guidelines and based on advice from infectious disease specialists we will open Texas businesses in phases,' Abbott said Monday.

A premature opening of private businesses, he stressed, would risk further outbreaks.

That approach marks a significant step back from what some had anticipated would be a much more aggressive push from Abbott to reopen the famously pro-business Texas.

The Lone Star State and its $1.8 trillion economy, second only to California in size, has been hit particularly hard by tumbling oil prices and the global pandemic.

As a result, Abbott has had to strike a delicate balance between two opposing forces: a push from the state's business community eager to get back to work and health professionals and economists warning that a premature restart could be deadly.

'The lives saved are priceless, but the price has been steep. Many have lost jobs, others have lost businesses. Many are struggling to pay their bills. I want those Texans to know they are not alone in this fight,' he said Monday.

'Just as we united as one state to slow Covid-19, we must also come together to begin rebuilding the lives and the livelihoods of our fellow Texans.'

This story has been updated with additional information Monday.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 578946

Reported Deaths: 10523
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2108744999
Riverside41983820
Orange40527724
San Bernardino36072546
San Diego32975594
Kern24995183
Fresno17846171
San Joaquin13870235
Alameda13631205
Santa Clara12962207
Sacramento12274179
Tulare11549198
Stanislaus10264169
Imperial9867244
Contra Costa9787146
Ventura874093
San Francisco769267
Santa Barbara699672
San Mateo6431122
Merced573670
Monterey549437
Marin540481
Kings445356
Solano427441
Sonoma375350
Madera246339
Placer237724
San Luis Obispo227817
Yolo183444
Santa Cruz12876
Butte12388
Napa112911
Sutter9967
San Benito7654
El Dorado7552
Lassen6830
Yuba6664
Mendocino47210
Shasta46910
Glenn4363
Colusa3965
Nevada3571
Tehama3031
Humboldt2864
Lake2402
Amador1853
Mono1581
Tuolumne1552
Calaveras1471
Inyo1063
Siskiyou1020
Del Norte1000
Mariposa622
Plumas360
Modoc50
Trinity50
Sierra40
Alpine20
Unassigned00
Chico
Few Clouds
90° wxIcon
Hi: 97° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 90°
Oroville
Clear
94° wxIcon
Hi: 98° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 94°
Paradise
Few Clouds
90° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 90°
Chester
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 84°
Red Bluff
Clear
91° wxIcon
Hi: 97° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 91°
Willows
Few Clouds
90° wxIcon
Hi: 101° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 90°
Warm temperatures and a Red Flag Warning for high fire danger are ahead for our region today. The heat ramps up this weekend and that will prompt an Excessive Heat Watch for the valley and foothills.
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