Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in Texas, US, to lift restrictions on multiple businesses starting since May 1. Restrictions on travelers from some areas remain.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Houston, Texas
  • Austin, Texas
  • Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • El Paso, Texas
  • Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas
  • Amarillo, Texas
  • Brownsville, Texas
  • Corpus Christi, Texas
  • Harlingen, Texas
  • Laredo, Texas
  • Longview, Texas
  • Lubbock, Texas
  • McAllen, Texas
  • Midland-Odessa, Texas
  • San Angelo, Texas
  • Del Rio, Texas
  • Abilene, Texas
  • Galveston-Texas City, Texas
  • Killeen, Texas
  • Wichita Falls, Texas
  • Waco, Texas
  • Tyler, Texas
  • College Station, Texas

This alert began 06 May 2020 21:43 GMT and is scheduled to expire 18 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Texas (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions, heightened security

Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order on May 6 to lift restrictions on additional businesses for restarting operations from May 8; other businesses will be able to restart from May 18. Authorities encourage residents until at least May 15 to minimize gatherings and contact with people from outside of their households and have urged residents 65 years or older to remain at home, except to perform essential tasks.

Authorities have previously lifted restrictions on multiple businesses since May 1 and these orders will allow more to reopen between May 6-18. The following businesses and activities are allowed:

  • Starting May 1: All retail stores, malls, restaurants, movie theaters, museums, libraries, and places of worship will be allowed to open, with a maximum capacity of 25 percent. Food courts and interactive areas in museums and libraries must remain closed. Outdoor sports are allowed with a maximum of four participants.
  • Starting May 6: Wedding venues and services required for a wedding may resume operations; they must limit indoor areas to 25 percent of their maximum capacity.
  • Starting May 8: Personal care businesses, such as barbershops, hair salons, and tanning salons may reopen while ensuring proper distance between work stations; public swimming pools may reopen if permitted by local governments, and with a limit of 25 percent of their maximum capacity.
  • Starting May 18: Businesses operating in offices, and gyms and fitness centers may reopen. All of them must be limited to 25 percent of their maximum capacity. Manufacturing services may resume, as long as facilities operate with a limit of 25 percent of their maximum occupancy.

All employers must train personnel for safety measures, screen their health and send home those with possible COVID-19 symptoms, consider the use of protective masks, enhance sanitation, and ensure social distancing. In counties with less than five confirmed cases of COVID-19, businesses will be allowed to open with a limit of 50 percent of their maximum capacity, instead of 25 percent.

Essential businesses, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, fuel stations, healthcare facilities, banks, and security, media, transport, and critical manufacturing companies, will remain open. All residents are encouraged to wear protective masks when in public. Bars, tattoo and massage businesses, and other entertainment venues, such as bowling alleys and amusement parks, must remain closed. Schools will remain closed for the remainder of the academic year.

Officials in Texas require anyone entering from the states of California, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and the cities of Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, and Miami to quarantine for 14 days. This order does not apply to persons in transit to locations outside of Texas, nor to those involved in military, emergency, health, or critical infrastructure operations.

Significant transport and business disruptions are likely. Authorities will almost certainly deploy additional security personnel to assist in enforcing any such measures that may be implemented. Officials could amend orders on short notice, depending on disease activity.

Background and Analysis
The relaxation of some measures are likely to accelerate in the coming weeks; however, restrictions may be reimposed or extended further should the number of COVID-19 cases increase. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential operations in the areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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