Despite a nonstop increase in positive coronavirus cases in Dallas County, Texas is moving forward with the next phase in its statewide reopening.
On May 8, hair salons, nail salons, and barbershops can reopen, according to the latest order from Gov. Gregg Abbott.
Gyms can open 10 days later, on May 18, but in a limited capacity, with showers and locker rooms still closed.
This follows the first reopening phase which took place on May 1, when restaurants, movie theaters, and malls were given the OK to reopen, although at 25 percent capacity and with social distancing measures. State parks reopened on April 20.
The glaring exception to this late reopening round is bars. Abbott said that bars would have to prove they can install successful social distancing strategies before getting the go-ahead.
"If you're a big bar with a lot of room, that's one thing, but how about small bars?" he asked. "We need details on all the different types of issues that arise so we can run it by our doctors to make an assessment and then open again as quickly as possible."
He didn't clarify how beauty salons, nail salons, and barbershops would be able to observe social distancing practices, given the fact that all of the services require close proximity and actual touching.
Office buildings with five employees or 25 percent of the workforce are also allowed to reopen, presuming they can maintain appropriate social distancing, Abbott said.
He gave manufacturers another week, noting they would be unable to ramp back up on short notice, and needed time to make their facilities safe.
At the same time that Abbott was announcing the reopening, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins tweeted chilling news from Dallas County Health and Human Services, with 253 new cases and 7 more deaths. "Today, we have a new record high number of cases as we have every day this week," Jenkins said.
Abbott has acknowledged that Texas might see an increase in positive cases, but has insisted that the increase would only be due to more tests.
However, in newly leaked audio from a private phone call on May 1, Abbott is heard admitting that "pretty much every scientific and medical report shows that whenever you have a reopening, it actually will lead to an increase and spread" of COVID-19, showing that, despite what he says in public, he seems to be fully aware of the risks.