Texas hair and nail salons, barber shops and tanning salons will be allowed to reopen to customers with modifications starting this Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced at a press briefing on Tuesday.
Abbott said on May 18, he would also allow gyms and exercise facilities to reopen with 25% occupancy as long as showers and locker rooms remained closed. He said equipment needs to be sanitized after each use and customers should wear gloves that cover the entire hand, Abbott said.
He said that hair and tanning salons that reopen this Friday must also maintain six feet between customers. Employees and clients are required to wear face coverings.
"No one is being required to open up. Every owner of every salon should use their own best judgement about when is it going to be best for them to safely open, whether it's May 8 or if its sometime after," Abbott said.
Abbott allowed the state's retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls to begin reopening with 25% capacity on April 30. He said there isn't a plan yet to reopen the state's bars while following proper social distancing guidelines.
Abbott said that while the state has been testing more people and more positive cases have been discovered, the hospitalization rate has been steady or even declining, suggesting that Texas would be "fully capable" of managing the health-care needs of all Covid-19 patients.
Abbott said he spoke with the White House task force, including Vice President Mike Pence and Dr. Deborah Birx, Monday. They said their goal is to test 2% of the population of each state every month, about 600,000 Texans per month, he said. So far, Texas has conducted more than 427,200 tests to date, according to the state's department of health.
There are currently 1,888 people in the state's hospitals with Covid-19, according to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services. The state has over 6,600 available ventilators, more than 2,000 intensive-care beds and more than 19,000 hospital beds available, according to the department.
The governor pointed to the Texas' essential businesses that have maintained operations, such as grocery stores, as proof that the state could open its economy and continue slowing the spread of Covid-19 until treatments or a vaccine are discovered.
"Our ability to show that we can co-exist with Covid-19 depends on ongoing efforts at good hygiene to continue to slow the spread," Abbott said. "So it's up to Texans whether or not we remain open or, in fact, open up even more, or alternatively if actions have to be taken that would lead to greater containment in certain areas."
The coronavirus has infected more than 33,400 in Texas, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Dallas County reported its third straight record day for new Covid-19 cases, bringing the county's total to 4,623, according to Dallas County Health and Human Services.