LERT discusses Governor Abbott's expansion of business openings

The Lubbock Economic Recovery Taskforce (LERT) discussed its guidelines and requirements regarding businesses opening May 8 virtually following Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order.

As restaurants across the state have started opening for business since May 1, Abbott has now announced that personal care businesses can reopen for business as soon as May 8. Personal care businesses include cosmetology salons, hair salons, barbershops, nail shops and other places where licensed cosmetologists or barbers practice.

With the reopening of these businesses, Abbott’s order states that every establishment must make sure each working station is at least six feet apart. Along with Abbott’s rule to ensure social distancing, LERT member Dave Marcinkowski said the task force will also implement several other requirements for personal care businesses in Lubbock.

“We’re asking that they position work stations in the facility to adhere to social distancing guidelines. We’ve added the fact that a physical barrier, like a cubicle or wall, achieves this requirement,” Marcinkowski said. “We’re requiring these businesses to take clients by appointment only and for clients to stay in their car until they’re invited in for their appointment.”

Along with these additional guidelines, Marcinkowski said LERT discourages bringing any additional guests to one’s appointment unless supervision is needed, such as appointments for children and those with special needs. Workers must also wash their hands and sanitize their equipment between clients as well.

Also in Abbott’s order was the reopening of public swimming pools, both indoor and outdoor. Indoor swimming pools will be able to operate, but no more than 25 percent of the listed occupancy can be in the facility at one time. As for outdoor swimming pools, no more than 25 percent of the pool operator’s given capacity limit will be allowed at once. Marcinkowski said Lubbock’s guidelines remain the same as Abbott’s requirements in his executive order.

“We’re also asking for all furniture in the pool area to be reconfigured to encourage social distancing and limit groups to the size of an individual household or up to five individuals,” Marcinkowski said. “We’re trying to avoid, at public pools, large groups coming together and having an event or anything like that.”

While Abbott announced that public pools in Texas will be able to reopen on May 8, LERT Co-Chairman Steve Massengale said Lubbock’s public pools usually open on Memorial Day weekend, even without the pandemic.

With personal care businesses and public swimming pools gave the green light to reopen May 8, LERT Co-Chairman Robert Taylor acknowledged the new guidelines for events. Weddings, memorials and funerals can be hosted in event centers or churches up to 25 percent occupancy as social distancing is encouraged. If any food is served at the events, it must follow the same guidelines as restaurants.

As Abbott announced that Texas is entering the second phase of reopening its businesses, several businesses are still closed. Gyms are to remain closed, but Abbott said they are set to reopen on May 18. Other businesses that are to remain closed, but do not have a date set for reopening, include bars, tattoo/piercing studios, video arcades, amusement parks, waterparks and splash pads.

Aside from several businesses being allowed to gradually reopen on May 8, Taylor said LERT was happy to receive the green light to have outdoor graduations for its high school graduates.

“I’m very grateful that he’s opened up a large portion of our small businesses that there’s been a quite a bit of demand and I think the operators of these businesses understand how to protect their selves, their staff and their customers and I think they’ll do a good job with it,” Massengale said.