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Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins Says Although Stay-At-Home Orders Have Changed, 'The Science That Will Keep Us Safe Has Not'

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that he will be allowing the statewide stay-at-home order to expire on Thursday in an effort to further reopen businesses in Texas.

However, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins says residents should continue "following science" when it comes to determining if it's safe and healthy to slowly begin the process of returning to the norm.

Abbott said his new executive order will allow nonessential businesses, which includes retail, restaurants, malls and movie theaters, to reopen their doors starting on Friday, May 1. But the caveat will be that they can only reopen for up to 25% capacity.

This will be the first phase in restarting the Texas economy, according to Abbott. Other businesses like barber shops, hairdressers and gyms are not included in this phase but may be able to reopen in the second phase, which could start as early as May 18.

"We wanted to make sure that we were able to open up as quickly as possible, but as safely as possible. These are decisions that are the result of tremendous input by the best possible medical team," Abbott said Monday.

Jenkins responded later in the evening, saying that his team of health officials will be reviewing the governor's new orders.

"Most other plans that open businesses in phases don't put places like movie theaters in the first group to open," Jenkins said in a statement. "The orders have changed but the science that will keep us safe has not."

Although businesses will be able to reopen, Abbott said social distancing will still be important. Businesses like restaurants will be looking at ways to follow both the 25% capacity order and social distancing guidelines.

"I believe North Texans will focus not on 'what can they do' but rather 'what should they do,'" Jenkins said. "It will be imperative for North Texans to make good choices particularly where these orders veer from the advice of public health experts."

Abbott's executive orders would overrule any orders at the local level.

There are currently about 25,297 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Texas and 663 deaths as of Tuesday morning. There are also around 11,170 recoveries.

Dallas County has the the second-highest case count in the state at 3,105 behind Harris County's 5,729 cases.

"Following science is the best way to keep safe and open the economy," Jenkins said.


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