Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Monday issued Executive Order GA-18 relating to an expanded reopening of services in the State in response to COVID-19, including the necessity to adhere to standard health protocols including the requirement for social distancing.
This order is the first phase of the State of Texas’ ongoing plan to safely and strategically open Texas while minimizing the spread of COVID-19. In the plan, all retail stores, restaurants, and movie theaters within the City of Galveston are allowed to reopen Friday, May 1 with capacity limited to 25 percent. Museums and libraries are also allowed to reopen, but hands-on exhibits must remain closed.
The state includes the minimum standard health protocols for these businesses in Texans Helping Texans: The Governor’s Report to Open Texas.
A stay-at-home order issued by the state will expire after April 30. However, Gov. Abbott urged Texans to continue following health guidance from the CDC and the state, including maintaining social distancing, avoiding crowds, limiting physical contact and using face coverings in public to reduce the spread of the virus.
With the expiration of the stay-at-home order, hotels and short-term rentals within the City of Galveston will no longer have restrictions on nonessential guests beginning May 1. Charter fishing operations will be allowed to reopen May 1. Fishing piers will also be allowed to resume business on May 1. However, all must follow social distancing requirements.
The governor’s order does not require all businesses to reopen on this day. To reopen is a decision for individual business owners.
A second phase of business openings could come as early as May 18. The governor’s office will reassess the data during the next two weeks and could increase the capacity to 50 percent, if conditions allow. At that time, the governor could also move to reopen bars, gyms, hair salons and barber shops, which remain closed at this time based on health authority guidance.
The Galveston City Council will consider an order during its regular meeting Thursday. The order specifically provides that local officials may enforce local restrictions that are consistent with this Executive Order GA-18. The Galveston City Council will also consider beach access during its Thursday meeting.
The City of Galveston’s top priority is the health of our residents. We strongly urge our residents to continue taking health precautions and following the CDC, state and health district guidelines regarding COVID-19, including social distancing and avoiding gatherings of more than 10.
We strongly encourage residents to only visit those businesses that adhere to the safety regulations set forth in the governor’s order and “Texans Helping Texans: The Governor’s Report to Open Texas.” For the safety of our citizens, we discourage residents from patronizing businesses who refuse to comply with the governor’s order and the health standards.
For restaurants, these include limiting capacity; ensuring parties maintain six feet distance; not seating tables of more than six; and making hand sanitizing readily available upon entry to restaurant.
We further urge residents to stay home when you can, keep six feet distance from others and wear masks in public spaces where social distancing is difficult to achieve. Please continue washing your hands and disinfecting surfaces frequently.
The state health guidelines are available at https://dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/opentexas.aspx.