Courtesy of U.S. Army Europe
On Tuesday, May 5, Texas Governor Greg Abbott held a press conference to announce the implementation of the second phase of his plan to reopen Texas. Phase one of the plan, which allowed for retail stores, malls, movie theatres, and restaurants to operate at 25% capacity, was put into effect on Friday, May 1 after Abbott released Executive Order No. GA-18.
As of Friday, May 8, hair salons, cosmetology salons, nail salons, barber shops, and tanning salons will be allowed to operate at a 25% capacity.
“One of the apprehensions and concerns about opening up barber shops and hair salons and similar types of businesses was the fact that the people operating the business as well as their customers would be very close to each other as that service is provided,” Abbott said in the press conference. “The only safe way that you can go about providing the service, while ensuring that we are doing everything possible to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 would be for both the person providing the service, and the customer, to wear face masks.”
In addition to the opening of salons, Abbott declared that as of Monday, May 18, gyms and athletic facilities will be allowed to operate at 25% capacity. However, equipment must be cleaned after each individual use, and locker rooms and bathrooms will remain closed.
“On one hand I understand the initial excitement of salons opening and the numerous people who have been craving a haircut as well as those who miss the feeling of normality,” junior Brooke Simpson said. “However, I still am on edge about things opening back up simply because there is no vaccine and guarantee that things will be okay. I hope that both the salons and customers take their greatest safety precautions.”
Although salons will be open as soon as May 8, sophomore Emma Dinwiddie explained that she plans to wait to see the results of phase two and, therefore, has booked a hair appointment for May 26.
“In all honesty, [the announcement] makes me feel awesome because my hair has gotten really long, and I am looking forward to cutting it,” Dinwiddie said. “At the same time, I do wish that Governor Abbott had waited a little bit longer, but I still think it has some benefits for a lot of people.”
In his address, Abbott also explained that starting May 18, non-essential manufacturing facilities will be allowed to operate with 25% of their employees in the facility at the same time. In addition, businesses located in office buildings will have the ability to restart operations with no greater than five employees or 25% of a company’s employees in the office at one time. However, all employees are expected to maintain appropriate social distancing guidelines even in the office.
“I think it is great that steps are being taken to achieve some sense of normality and I think things such as curbside pickup are a great way to still stay safe while getting things that are needed or wanted,” Simpson said. “In terms of opening things back up, I was able to go pick up food the other day and just in that short period of time I noticed that about half of the people were taking precautions and about half were not. If people were to strictly follow the rules about social distancing and wearing masks I think that more openings would be okay; however, not all people are following the rules so it makes me nervous in that sense.”
As more businesses reopen, Abbott explained that he is expecting to see increased amounts of COVID-19 cases across the state. However, he stated in his address that he has created several surge response teams across Texas that will provide increased testing, medical capabilities, and aid in regions where COVID-19 cases do increase in the following days.
“You have demonstrated the full capability of doing exactly what you need to do to practice safety by wearing face masks and washing your hands to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” Abbott said in his address. “We urge you to continue to strongly maintain those practices, so that Texas can continue to expand our businesses.”