HOUSTON, TX — This week, Texas began reopening for business.
Despite no drop in confirmed COVID-19 cases, Gov. Greg Abbot’s executive order is now in effect — allowing some facilities and businesses to reopen and expand operations. This order supersedes any local orders already issued across the state.
Beginning May 1, all retail stores, malls, restaurants and movie theaters have reopened for business at 25% capacity, as long as they adhere to social distancing measures.
“The extent to which this order opens up businesses in Texas supersedes all local orders. If phase one works while containing COVID-19, phase two will expand that occupancy to 50 percent. Further increases will be allowed in the future so long as COVID-19 remains contained,” said Abbot.
The second phase of reopenings and looser restrictions will include barbershops, hair salons, bars and gyms could be implemented by May 18 — as long as Texas sees “two weeks of data, to confirm no flare-up of COVID-19.”
Texas reopening brings unease on both sides of the issue. While it give more flexibility for consumers and begins to restart the economy, it leaves some service workers with tough decisions.
“I think we are ready, but the Houstonians, they are worried. I am worried, but we have to work,” said Joey Valladolid, Restaurant Chef.
As business owners brace for an uncertain future, early customers said they are anxious to get life back to normal.
“I’m a little bit concerned here and there, but we should just be more careful. But who wants to be locked down at home? We gotta get out.”
Places of worship will also reopen, limiting attendance and stressing social distancing. As much as some church-goers would like to come back, many are expressing concern over the rush to re-open.
“I know that they are limiting the capacity they are taking in, but at the same time, I think it is premature to open not just churches but everything. We are going too fast and it should be a slower process.”
Some local officials and medical professionals have objections to Texas’ early reopening and are hoping that residents will continue to stay home.
“It’s an invisible enemy that has already affected and killed so many people, affected lives, made people sick, and I believe it may be too soon to open.”
“Texas now joins Tennessee and South Carolina on the list of states that have chosen to reopen businesses despite warnings of a second outbreak occurring in the Winter.”
The social distancing will be followed by all Houstonians, so we won’t have a second wave. Because the second wave is more deadly than the first. If there is a second wave, we may be closed again, and that would be unfortunate for us.