Gov. Greg Abbott said on Wednesday that Texans, at least in many parts of the state, will be able early next month to visit hair salons, stores and — once they’ve been reconfigured to allow distancing — restaurants and movie theaters.

Abbott, raising expectations that his coronavirus orders will be greatly relaxed, also said that beaches will be open this summer.

Previewing what he has said could be a lifting of his stay-at-home order on Monday, Abbott told radio talk show hosts in two markets that he was determined Texas should keep its ranking by some publications as the nation’s most business-friendly state.

“We’re going to be making an announcement opening so many different types of businesses, where you’re going to be able to go to a hair salon … go to any type of retail establishment you want to go to, different things like that, with a structure in place that will ensure that we slow the spread of the coronavirus,” he told a Lubbock interviewer.

Abbott told WBAP in Dallas-Fort Worth that he and his advisers have been talking to businesses in detail about safe ways to reopen.

“They’re saying they need about a week, to … go back in and clean up their facilities, and whether it be a movie theater … or a restaurant to get everything organized to make sure they have all the supplies they need,” he said.

“But this is going to be happening in the first couple of days in May, where you’re going to be able to go back and go dining under safe standards, you’re going to be able to get a haircut, you’re going to be able to go to a hair salon, you’re going to be able to start doing some things that people have been been long wanting to do.”

Abbott also told “WBAP Morning News” that either Friday or Monday, he’ll greatly revise his stay-at-home order that expires April 30.

“We’ll put a new order in place that begins to open up a lot of businesses and so we’re running pretty much every different type of business that exists in the state of Texas,” including churches, he said. And he said counties such as Parker County, which have had few COVID-19 cases, will get more freedom to reopen business than “let’s say the Dallas counties of the world.”

Abbott also said he is talking with officials of professional sports and the NCAA about games starting again without fans.

“They are ready to get going and they likely will be getting going with doing so without crowds at first,” he said.

In his appearance on “The Chad Hasty Show” on Lubbock’s 95.1 FM and KFYO-AM, the Republican governor said:

  • Life “is not going to be like it was before,” and Texas “won’t be fully opened,” but restrictions he ordered last month will be significantly eased.
  • Counties with high rates of coronavirus infection won’t be permitted as much leeway. He cited Moore County in the Panhandle, which has 7.43 cases per 1,000 residents, and nearby Potter and Randall counties, which include Amarillo, as having “too high of a growth rate right now.”
  • When commerce starts to widen, “there will be some level of expansion of the spread of the coronavirus.” But, he said, “We can handle that, as long as the expansion is very minimal.”
  • Businesses that reopen will have to “follow the safest practices.” Though he mentioned “distancing practices,” he didn’t explain how safety would be maintained in hair salons and other personal-care businesses.

During the radio interviews, Abbott also fielded questions about whether Texas schools will reopen in the fall. He announced last week that they will remain closed for the rest of this academic year.

Abbott said it is too early to tell whether schools can open again after the summer, noting the ongoing concern that the virus can make a “rebound” until a vaccine is finalized. However, he said he expects medicine that treats the virus to become widely available before the fall.

“Our goal is to be able to open schools in the fall, but we simply will not be able to make that call until we get closer to that time period,” Abbott told the conservative radio host Glenn Beck.

Currently, Abbott has the entire state under an executive order requiring people to stay home unless they are participating in activities deemed “essential.”

-Dallas Morning News