Texas continues reopening economy; additional openings expected Friday

Claire Proctor / Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that day care centers, youth clubs and personal-care services were allowed to open Monday, and starting Friday, myriad other businesses can reopen, including bars, bowling alleys and aquariums at limited capacity.

Restaurants can also operate at 50 percent capacity starting Friday; they've been permitted to operate at 25 percent capacity since May 1.

Another round of reopenings will come May 31, with youth summer camps to return, as well as certain professional sports without spectators, including basketball, baseball, football, golf and softball.

Child care was previously reserved for essential workers and is now expanded to include all Texans returning to work. The opening of personal-care and beauty services — places like tattoo parlors and massage studios — includes establishments that weren’t included when salons, barbershops and nail salons opened May 8. Abbott allowed gyms, manufacturers and offices to open Monday as well.

Texas is one of 34 states reopening various sectors of the economy under different restrictions. Some states are opening regionally while others remain shut down.

By next week, Texas — tied with West Virginia — could have the most industry sectors open of any state, according to a New York Times analysis.

Common guidelines for reopening sites include regularly screening workers, participants and customers; having hand sanitizing stations; regularly sanitizing and cleaning surfaces; and encouraging — but not requiring — face masks.

Here are recommendations from the governor’s task force that reopening businesses should follow.

Child care centers and youth clubs

Child care centers, including home providers and youth clubs were allowed to open starting Monday at full capacity.

Although children so far seem to be at lower risk for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, the governor’s task force issued recommendations to help prevent the spread of the virus. But some protections, like wearing face masks or maintaining 6 feet of separation, won’t work for infants, toddlers and young children. The task force recommends the following guidelines.

• High-risk workers, including those 65 and older, should consider staying home.

• Sick children and staff should be required to stay home.

• If a child starts showing symptoms, centers should have a designated room to isolate the child.

• Parents and guardians should limit their children's contact with people 65 and older.

• Parents should only enter the facility when necessary.

•For pickup and drop-off, centers should consider designating a parent to walk children to and from the classroom, wearing a face mask.

• If centers rely on buses for transportation, riders should be spaced out and windows should be kept open.

• Children should be separated in groups with the same caregiver. Those groups should stay the same and should avoid mixing with other groups.

• For children ages 3 and older, there should only be 10 children for one caregiver; younger children should be in even smaller groups.

•Playground time, art, music and other activities should happen at staggered times. Children should be outside regularly.

• Playgrounds should be cleaned but not disinfected.

• Nap time mats should be disinfected before and after use and should be situated as far apart as possible.

•Toys should be sanitized and shouldn’t be shared between groups.

• Staff working with infants and toddlers should wash hands before and after changing diapers, which should be done while wearing gloves.

• Workers who regularly hold children should wear long-sleeved shirts and keep their hair up.

• Infants, toddlers and workers should have multiple changes of clothes.

• Children should be provided individual meals and snacks and shouldn’t share food with other children.

Youth clubs like Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are allowed to hold meetings in groups of 10 or fewer.

• Massage services, tattoo parlors and piercing studios

• On Monday, Abbott allowed massage services, tattoo parlors, piercing studios and other personal-care and beauty services to open, with recommended protocols.

• Schedule appointments when possible to keep a limited number of people in shops.

• If walk-ins are allowed, customers should wait in their cars.

• Customers shouldn’t bring their kids.

• Workers should wash their hands or change gloves between each service and use disposable supplies that can be thrown away after each use.

• Each workstation should be fully cleaned between customers, including equipment that isn't disposable.

• Reusable towels should be put in laundry baskets after use to be cleaned with chlorine bleach, and laundry baskets should be sanitized between uses as well.

• Starting Friday, bars can operate at percent capacity under the following health guidelines.

• Dancing and other close-contact interactions are discouraged.

• Interactive areas like arcade games should stay closed.

• Bars should seat customers at tables.

Seated parties should have no more than 6 people per table, and tables should be socially distanced, which could be managed by placing unoccupied tables between parties.

• Staff should block off the bar itself so customers can’t sit or order there.

• Bars should provide disposable menus and single-use condiments, silverware and glasses.

• The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission should make sure bars comply.