Executive Order No. GA-18: Texas Governor Greg Abbott announces his plan to reopen Texas

Courtesy of The Dallas Morning News


Cade Spencer

During a press conference on Monday, April 27, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced the implementation of Executive Order No. GA-18. Within the order, the governor declared that as of May 1, retail store, malls, movie theaters, and restaurants will be able to reopen and operate at 25% capacity.

Cade Spencer, Managing Editor

On April 27, Texas Governor Greg Abbott hosted a press conference to present Executive Order No. GA-18. The executive order establishes Abbott’s reopening plan for the State of Texas, a plan that will replace the stay-at-home ordinance declared in the executive order set to expire April 30. 

Because Abbott seeks to have a slow reopening process, the plan is broken down into multiple phases, each phase allowing more businesses to open and at increasing capacities. The first phase will go into effect on Friday, May 1. 

“For the past two months Texans have forged a bond of unity and trust,” Abbott said in his public address. “Millions of Texans have sacrificed their livelihoods, as well as so many of their cherished moments in an unprecedented effort to prioritize the health and safety of our fellow Texans.”

In his address, Abbott stated that Texas has seen a consecutive 17 day decrease in the rate of infection of COVID-19.

“The lives [that have been] saved are priceless, but the price has been steep,” Abbott said. “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.”

As Abbott has made these executive decisions, he explained that he has received advice from his team of doctors and professional advisors known as the Texas Strike Force

“Now it is 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.”

As of May 1, Executive Order No. GA-18 will allow retail stores, restaurants, movie theatres, and malls to resume business; however, they can only operate at a 25% capacity. Although the businesses can accept customers, physical distancing guidelines are expected to be maintained.  

“I will not be going to a mall or movie theater soon because COVID-19 did not just suddenly disappear,” senior Carlos Canepa said. “Although, I will begin to go out into public places with precaution.”

In addition to the retail stores and restaurants, the order will allow museums and libraries to open and operate at a 25% capacity. However, any museum exhibits with hands-on interactive features will have to remain closed. 

 “Again, this is permission to open, not a requirement,” Abbott said. “If a business owner feels unsafe opening at this time, or for other reasons does not want to reopen, there is no requirement to do so.”

Currently in the Travis County area there is a Stay Home-Work Safe ordinance in place until May 8; however, Abbott declared that the executive order would replace any local orders.

“Going out to eat is one of the things I have missed the most during quarantine so I have made a mental list of places to go once I am out,” Canepa said. “In my opinion, it is more important than ever to support local business, so I will be going to local food trucks, ramen shops, and much more.”

If there are no major outbreaks of COVID-19 within a two week period after phase one is implemented, Abbott declared that phase two would be activated, which would allow all of the businesses opened under phase one to operate at 50% capacity. 

“I am very ready for quarantine to be over, but I am hesitant about the reopening process,” junior Alex Johnson said. “I am excited to be able to enjoy all the things I took for granted, but the possibility of more viral spread is unsettling to me.”

In addition to the reopening of select businesses under phase one, as of May 1, health care workers- such as dentists and specialty surgeons- will be allowed to return to work. 

“I would definitely use the recommended safety measures and try to interact as little as possible with people, but I think I’d still go out,” Johnson said. “When I go out, I will make sure to wear a mask and stay apart from people as much as possible.”

Although physical distancing guidelines must be maintained, the executive order allows recreational sports to resume with a maximum of four players at one time.

“Examples of this would be things like golf and tennis,” Abbott said. “If COVID-19 can be contained in phase one, the goal would be to expand the number of participants in phase two to allow even more sporting activities to be engaged in.”

In order to assist essential workers’ return to work, Abbott’s Strike Force team has created a database of childcare providers and facilities across the state called Frontline Child Care. The website lists over 6,000 childcare providers across 200 Texas counties, and the entire database names over 120,000 childcare facilities that are currently available for essential workers. 

“We realized that an important part of reopening is access to childcare,” Abbott said. “Our goal is to find ways to expand those resources and make them available in a safe way to more workers across the entire state. We know how important this issue is to working families, and we are giving it the speedy attention that it deserves.”

As Texas begins phase one of the Texas Reopen Plan, Abbott explained that there is a system of COVID-19 monitors that will provide tests across the state. According to Abbott, Texas currently has over 1,100 contact tracers and within the next two weeks 1,000 tracers will be added. 

“A core part of opening up safely is having an effective testing and tracing process: a process that can quickly identify any flare-ups in COVID-19,” Abbott said.  “We have already developed a robust testing and tracing program to help identify others who may have been affected. Here is what the team does; they test for those who may be affected. They then help isolate those who test positive, and then they try to locate everyone who has been in contact with the infected person. [Finally,] they work with them to self-isolate for 14 days.”

In an effort to support the state tracing system, Abbott declared that within the next two weeks, Texas health officials should be able to administer 25,000 COVID-19 tests every day. 

“To stay protected in the community I will stay in open places with minimal crowds,” Canepa said. “I will also wear a mask and constantly wash my hands.”

To view the press conference in which Abbott presented his plan to the public, please watch the video embedded in this story.

“Safely opening Texas for business requires four things,” Abbott said. “One: a commitment to continued safe practices that reduce the spread of COVID-19, two: reliance on doctors and data to provide the safest strategies. Three: a focus on protecting the most vulnerable from exposure to COVID-19, and four: a reminder that it is entrepreneurs who drive the Texas economy.”


Additional reporting by Shikha Patel and Shruti Patel