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Abbott extends state orders, schools closed until May 4

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday extended the state’s coronavirus social distancing guidelines until April 30.

“Now is not the time for us to let up,” Abbott said.

Abbott avoided calling his announcement a statewide shelter-in-place or stay-at-home order, although the order bears similarities to orders that have been approved in Galveston County and other places.

The order defines nearly 18 different forms of essential infrastructure that are exempt and allowed to continue operating — such as health care services, transportation services and chemical companies.

Abbott also announced Texas schools will be closed until at least May 4.

Abbott on March 19 issued an order closing all bar and restaurant dining rooms and prohibiting social gatherings of more than 10 people. The original order was set to expire Friday. Now it will continue for another month.

Abbott’s new state order follows the same timeline President Donald Trump laid out on Sunday.

Abbott’s new order still gives local jurisdictions flexibility to make their own stricter rules, if the new order doesn’t address an issue already, he said. For instance, counties and cities cannot now make their own rules about attendance for religious services, Abbott said.

Abbott’s order defines religious services conducted in churches, congregations and houses of worship as essential services.