AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott last week announced a phased plan to reopen Texas after the economy ground to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Monday, the first step takes place: reopening of state parks.
According to Gov. Abbott's executive order, park visitors will be required to wear face masks and maintain social distancing guidelines, with family groups no larger than five people.
“As we navigate through these challenging times, it is essential that outdoor experiences and opportunities are available for Texas families. We have been diligently working with our partners in local communities across the state to help safeguard our state park visitors, volunteers and staff when they return to Texas State Parks,” said Carter Smith, Executive Director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “During the temporary closure, our State Parks team has been cleaning and sanitizing park facilities, addressing routine maintenance projects, and ensuring requisite safety protocols are in place to ensure visitors have the best possible experience.”
On Wednesday, the ban on non-essential medical procedures is scheduled to loosen, meaning some surgeries will be allowed to take place.
This Friday, retailers will be allowed to offer to-go service to customers that have purchased items beforehand.
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Infectious disease experts say the number of COVID-19 cases in Texas is expected to peak in early May -- and opening too early could bring on a big spike in coronavirus.
Abbott acknowledged that everything depends on getting the COVID-19 pandemic under control.
"Some businesses fully open without better distancing standards would be more likely to set us back rather than to propel us forward," the governor said.
For a map of all parks reopening on Monday, click here.