A game of Bingo on Thursday night, a trip to the bowling alley on Friday, a Little League game on Saturday and a family outing to the zoo on Sunday.
Such a schedule will soon be possible for people in Houston and beyond. So will after-work drinks at local watering holes, overnight summer camps and maybe even live baseball games on TV.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott continued to press on with his plan to reopen the state Monday, even as the numbers of COVID-19 cases and related deaths continue to mount. He outlined Phase 2 of his plan to boost a Texas economy that has plummeted during the pandemic, saying bars, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks and zoos are among the businesses that can reopen Friday if they take measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, the upper-respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus.
“Today, tomorrow and every day going forward is one day closer to a medical discovery that will help treat and protect people from becoming infected with COVID-19,” Abbott said. “Until that day comes, our focus is to keep you safe while also restoring your ability to get back to work, to open your business, to pay your bills, to get food on your tables.
“But let’s be clear. COVID-19 still exists in Texas. Our goal is to find ways to coexist with COVID-19 as safely as possible. That includes continuing the safe practices you’ve already adopted — maintaining social distancing, wearing a mask and keeping your hands clean.”
Abbott said restaurant dining rooms, which have been allowed to operate at 25 percent building occupancy since May 1, can expand to 50 percent capacity on Friday. The reopening of bars also applies to wine tasting rooms, taprooms at craft breweries and similar businesses.
Childcare centers and youth clubs such as the YMCA and Boys & Girls Clubs are permitted to open immediately, according to Abbott’s executive order, as are businesses that offer personal care and beauty services such as massage and tattoo parlors and piercing studios. Abbott previously said exercise gyms as well as non-essential manufacturers and office-based businesses could resume operations Monday.
Abbott said his plan is to allow youth day camps and overnight camps, along with youth sports leagues, to reopen May 31. Professional sports such as auto racing, baseball, basketball, football, golf, softball and tennis also can hold events in Texas beginning May 31, although with no spectators in attendance.
Texas schools, which Abbott ordered to close for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year, can hold in-person summer classes beginning June 1.
Each of the reopening allowances come with a series of safety and social distancing protocols. All the details are outlined at gov.texas.gov/opentexas.
Despite all the precautionary measures outlined by Abbott, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner opened his daily news conference later Monday by describing the state’s reopening plan as aggressive. The city reported 115 new COVID-19 cases and one death Monday, increasing the total number of cases in Houston and Harris County to 9,635 and the total number of deaths caused by the disease to 205.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, a total of 47,784 cases and 1,336 deaths have been reported on a statewide level.
“I hope and pray that things go well and that in a month from now, we won’t be second-guessing anybody,” Turner said. “Whether me or the governor or anybody says things are open, I think people are going to exercise their common sense and do things to help protect themselves and their family members.”