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Domain
Karen Brooks Harper

A sign out Salvation Pizza thanks residents for supporting local businesses in the Rock Rose area of The Domain in North Austin. (Karen Brooks Harper)

All retail stores, restaurants, malls, movie theaters, libraries and museums will be allowed to reopen with just 25% capacity this Friday, May 1, according an executive order issued on Monday by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Gyms, bars, barbershops and nail salons are among businesses ordered to stay closed, but that could change as early as mid-May, Abbott said.


The Republican governor's previous stay-at-home order, which allowed only essential businesses to open and required restaurants to serve to-go in an effort to curb spread of COVID-19, will expire this week.

"Now it's time to set a new course," Abbott said in a news conference Monday. "A new course that responsibly opens up business in Texas."

Abbott's plan has a testing and contact-tracing element, which includes increasing testing capacity to 25,000 tests per day in Texas, engaging 3,000 members of the Texas National Guard in mobile testing sites throughout the state, and building a team of up to 4,000 contract tracers to "box in" the virus, Abbott said.

The new rules also seek to strengthen protection of elderly Texans with new protocols for group homes and requirements that businesses follow extra safety measures with elderly and otherwise vulnerable populations.

Sole proprietors of all types may once again go back to work, not just those in essential industries. Outdoor sports with fewer than four participants are allowed again, and some travel and hospital restrictions were relaxed.

The order negates local rules that ban these businesses from opening, and wipes out face mask requirements and other stay-at-home orders across the state because the executive order will supersede county and city ordinances, Abbott said.

His office strongly suggested that Texans continue to wear face masks, but said they are not mandatory. Similarly, businesses are allowed to open, but not required.

If the current allowances don't result in a spike in coronavirus-related hospitalizations and deaths by mid-May, the rules will be further relaxed and Phase 2 of the reopening will go into effect on May 18, he said.

That includes an increased capacity for the businesses allowed under Phase 1 and perhaps more businesses added to the list, he said.

Abbott said he ran the entire plan by Dr. Deborah Birx, the Trump administration's coronavirus coordinator, and her team.

"She said the Texas plan was great," Abbott said. The Trump Administration and advisors "have truly been available to us on a 24/7 basis."

House Speaker Dennis Bonnen reminded Texans that limited capacity and increased protocols at businesses may slow things down at first.

"We're going to have to show patience," he said.

Nearly 2 million Texans have filed unemployment claims, Abbott said. Some 1.6 billion claims have been processed and $2 billion in benefits paid, he said. The economy has been on hold long enough, he said—even as social distancing and stay-at-home orders proved effective.

Last week, state parks were reopened and restrictions were loosened on surgeries in anticipation of the new order.

"The lives saved are priceless," he said, "but the price has been steep."

See the governor's plan here.

Popular

Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.

There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.

All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.

Mac and Cheese Fest and Free Art Exhibit
Waterloo Greenway, Good Vibrations Installation


🗓 All weekend

🎨 Creek Show Art Exhibit

Check out this highly anticipated art exhibition with illuminated art along Waller Creek. Tickets are free and the event includes food vendors, dazzling lights, live music, and hands-on activities

All weekend 6 p.m - 10 p.m | 📍Waterloo Park

✨ Mozart's Light Show

This iconic holiday tradition lights up for the first time this holiday season starting this weekend! Reserve your spot for an enchanting light and sound performance, delicious hot cocoa, sweet treats, and some overall fun with your friends or family. The show runs till January 6th.

6 p.m and 9 p.m | 📍Mozart's Coffee Roasters - 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

🗓 Saturday

🥊 Kickboxing in the Park

This fitness event is free and open to the public. Get your morning started right with a "Fitness in the park" class for kickboxing! The class will be led by certified instructors and is a great way to get a cardio workout in while also honing your self-defense skills.

10 a.m - 11 a.m | 📍 Metz Park

🛍 The Front Market

Support local LBGTQ+ and female artists at this outdoor market with over 150 vendors. Get your holiday shopping out of the way at this event, with vendors for food trucks, handmade goods, raffles, hands on workshops and activities, and more.

11 a.m - 5 p.m | 📍Ani's Day and Night - 7107 E Riverside Drive, Austin, TX 78741

🗓 Sunday

🧀 Mac and Cheese Fest

Did someone say cheese?! If you're like me and always willing to get your hands on a bowl of mac and cheese, then this event is for you. Check out the Mac and Cheese festival happening this weekend to decide which vendor has. the best mac and cheese for yourself, and enjoy the bar with creative cocktails while you're at it. Tickets start at $45.

11 a.m - 3 p.m | 📍Lantana Place - 7415 Southwest Parkway