Governor Greg Abbott has ordered the extension of the state’s social distancing guidelines through the end of April, and the closure of schools through at least May 4th.
The order follows President Donald Trump’s extension of federal social distancing guidelines through April 30th. It also follows an order Sunday from Abbott implementing stricter restrictions on travelers coming into Texas from COVID-19 hotspots.
Abbott at a news conference Tuesday in Austin established a list defining essential services and essential activities for the purpose of his executive order.
Essential services, according to Abbott’s order, are listed as: health care and public health; law enforcement, public safety and other first responders; food and agriculture; energy; waste and wastewater; transportation and logistics; public works and infrastructure support services; communications and information technology; other community or government-based operations and essential functions; critical manufacturing; hazardous materials; financial services; chemical; defense industrial base; commercial facilities; residential/shelter facilities and services; and hygiene products and services.
The full list of services can also be seen online at https://tdem.texas.gov/essentialservices.
Current guidelines permit essential activities like grocery shopping and banking, as long as people keep at least six feet apart. This distance requirement also applies to outdoor physical activities.
In recognition of the upcoming Easter holiday, Abbott also said religious activities can still be performed remotely or while keeping with social distancing requirements, citing drive-up services as a potential alternative.
At the news conference, Abbott confirmed the state has at least 3,266 positive COVID-19 cases, with over 40 deaths. Nearly half of the state’s 254 counties have reported a positive case, and roughly 43,000 people have been tested for the virus.
Abbott said this is not a statewide shelter-in-place or stay-at-home order, saying if it were to be taken literally, people would not be allowed to leave their homes at all. He has previously encouraged local governments to take it upon themselves to enact more strict measures, if need be.