Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has announced that movie theaters will be allowed to reopen on Friday, along with restaurants, retail stores and museums.
Texas becomes the latest state to allow theaters to open, though the major chains are not expected to restart business until at least July. Georgia allowed its theaters to reopen on Monday, though as yet it appears that few, if any, have chosen to do so.
Abbott acknowledged that many companies would choose to remain closed.
“This is permission to open, not a requirement,” Abbott said.
Abbott added theaters and other establishments would be allowed to operate at only 25% capacity, which may make it uneconomical for many businesses to operate.
The major theater chains are unlikely to reopen without the support of major studio releases, which in turn are unlikely to be distributed until theaters across the country are able to screen them.
The governor also said that barber shops, hair salons, bars and gyms would not be allowed to reopen under the initial phase. However, he said he hoped they would reopen by mid-May.
Several other states — including South Carolina, Oklahoma and Alaska — have also taken steps to reopen. Many states have issued “stay at home” orders that expire on April 30. Texas, with a population of nearly 30 million, is by far the largest state to reopen so far.
President Donald Trump said last week that he disagreed with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to reopen that state, saying it was too soon.
Abbott said he had cleared Texas’ plan with Deborah Birx, who has led the coronavirus response at the White House, and had gotten the administration’s blessing.
“We are Texans,” Abbott said. “We got this.”