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Llano County wants its non-essential businesses slated to reopen May 1 to be allowed to operate at 50 percent occupancy capacity, rather than 25 percent, during Phase 1 of the state of Texas’ new plan to restart the economy.

Under Gov. Greg Abbott’s new executive order, announced April 27, counties with five or fewer confirmed and active cases of COVID-19 would be able to operate at 50 percent capacity as long as they met certain health protocols.

As of April 29, Llano County had three confirmed cases.

Abbott announced that, starting Friday, non-essential businesses such as restaurants, retail, malls, and movie theaters could reopen for in-person dining, shopping, and services. The governor stipulated that those businesses must limit their occupancy to 25 percent of capacity while maintaining other social distancing protocols to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

However, the governor said rural counties with five or fewer confirmed cases could bump up their occupancy to 50 percent. These counties must receive affirmation from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

“Llano County will be submitting our letter of attestation to DSHS on April 30, 2020,” stated Llano County Judge Ron Cunningham in a media release. “This will allow many of our businesses to begin operations at 50 percent capacity on May 1, 2020. Providing the number of confirmed and active COVID-19 cases remains 5 or less, many of our businesses will be allowed to operate at this level and we look forward to remaining businesses to begin to return to operations in the coming weeks.”

Cunningham tweeted April 29 that, as of 6 p.m. on that date, Llano County still held at three confirmed cases and described them as “recovered.”

Other non-essential businesses not in the first phase of reopenings include hair and nail salons, barbershops, gyms, and bars. Abbott said if there are no spikes of COVID-19 cases in the state in the next couple of weeks, those businesses could reopen as early as May 18.

For more on the governor’s plan to reopen the state and protocols, check out the booklet Texans Helping Texans: The Governor’s Report to Open Texas.

For more on how COVID-19 is affecting the Highland Lakes, visit the coronavirus resources webpage.