City of Waco announces new phase-opening plan to begin Friday

With the spread of COVID-19 decreasing while vaccinations continue, the city of Waco has started to reopen businesses. Sarah Pinkerton | Photographer

By Mallory Harris | Staff Writer

On Thursday, the City of Waco announced its COVID-19 reopening plan for businesses, conventions and city events. The first stage of reopening will begin Friday.

“The City of Waco will start taking the first steps in a phased approach to opening following a year of COVID-19 closures at City facilities and on City property,” a press release sent out by the city said. “Modifications to the phases, as well, as the additional restrictions for City operations or events held on City property, can be made at the discretion of the City Manager.”

While still maintaining restrictions and general safety in this stage, outdoor activities on city property will return with a larger capacity limit in certain conventions. City buildings that have been closed will remain closed, though City Council and Commission meetings are moving to in-person settings. Public participation in these meeting will remain online.

“In this phase city-operated museums and venues will continue operating with restrictions, and conventions and meetings can occur at 75% occupancy with restrictions,” the announcement said.

The announcement explained that transitioning from one phase to another greatly depends on the state of the pandemic.

“Transition from Phase One to future phases will depend on increased vaccination rates within McLennan County and keeping the rate of new COVID-19 cases in McLennan County low along with low COVID-19 hospitalization rates within our region,” the announcement said.

With continued success, Phase Two allows for increases in occupancy in meetings and conventions with safety restrictions. City buildings are also planned to start opening with guidelines. With Phase Three as the end goal, the city of Waco plans for a 100% open status for its citizens.

Ponder senior Macy Popplewell shared how she is excited to do more of her favorite things in Waco as the city reopens, including going downtown and walking around, or hanging out with friends.

Popplewell owns a small business and sets up a booth at the Waco Farmer’s Market. She said it has been a unique opportunity that has allowed her to enjoy the market experience even more. The return of more outside activities, like the market, is something Popplewell said she is looking forward to.

“I think outdoor events taking place may make it feel like a ‘normal’ spring in Waco, and I am excited for that,” Popplewell said.