Texas governor says religious services are allowed but only with social distancing

AUSTIN, Tex. (KBTX)- Gov. Greg Abbott extended social distancing guidelines through April 30 and announced Texas schools will remain closed until at least May 4.

As part of Tuesday's executive order, Abbott also deemed certain businesses and services "essential" statewide.

Gov. Abbott said religious services are deemed an essential service and must either be conducted virtually, or abide by appropriate social distancing measures if in-person, Abbott said, giving an example of a "drive-up" service where people remain in their cars.

"That seems like it would satisfy the criteria that we're talking about," Abbott said.

The Governor said local stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders can not impose on the restrictions of his executive order.

Abbott used religious services as an example.

"So to the extent, for example, that religious services are permitted as specified in this executive order, they cannot be denied by a local ordinance under this order," said Abbott.

Not everyone agrees with this order.

Texas House Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Chris Turner said "his decision apparently overrules counties that have limited gatherings of more than ten in places of worship, which could pose a serious health risk to any congregation that chooses to not require video or teleconferencing services in the weeks ahead. We need to learn more about how this order will co-exist with stronger, local orders and we’ll look to local leaders for guidance on that question."