Child care centers, gyms open in Texas as Abbott rolls out Phase II; bars, others are next

Published 3:41 pm Monday, May 18, 2020

Child care centers, youth clubs and gymnasiums/exercise facilities are allowed to reopen starting today (May 18) as Texas rolled out the second phase of generating commerce amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The phase also calls for day and overnight youth camps to reopen May 31 and school districts to hold summer classes starting June 1.

In a statewide address Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced gyms and exercise centers may operate up to 25 percent of the maximum occupancy of each facility. Locker rooms and shower facilities must remain closed, however.

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Planet Fitness, which has a facility on Twin City Highway in Groves, told its customers in an email it would not immediately open up while continuing the evaluate local guidelines and restrictions. It did not offer a potential date for reopening.

Also starting Monday, massage and personal care services may operate, as well as businesses in office buildings with up to 10 individuals or 25 percent of the total workforce. And youth clubs such as Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts and TOP Ladies of Distinction may hold meetings but not with more than 10 persons at a time.

Social distancing of 6 feet or more is required in all instances.

“COVID-19 still exists in Texas,” Abbott said. “Our goal is to coexist with COVID-19 as safely as possible.”

That includes safe practices including social distancing, wearing facemasks and sanitizing hands, Abbott added. Facemasks are not mandatory, however.

“It is a fact, these safe practices, they save lives,” the governor said.

Beginning Friday, restaurants may open to 50 percent, while bars (including breweries and wine tasting rooms), skating rinks and bowling alleys may reopen up to 25 percent of capacity. The occupancy limits do not apply to outdoor areas that maintain safe distancing.

Abbott did not specify which other businesses that were allowed to reopen at the beginning of Phase I on May 1 could operate at 50 percent.

Zoos will open May 29.

Starting May 31, youth sports organizations may begin holding practices without spectators other than one parent or guardian per participant. Games may begin, with or without spectators, on or about June 15, with social distancing.

Professional sports events may be held in Texas starting May 31, but without spectators. The IndyCar season is scheduled to begin at Texas Motor Speedway on June 6, but Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association have not announced dates to begin or resume their seasons. The NBA playoffs typically would be held between April and June.


About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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