Local businesses cleared to reopen
By Wesley Gardner
Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday announced he would let the state’s “stay-at-home” order to expire on Thursday, allowing a slew of businesses to reopen in a limited capacity.
Abbott’s order will allow businesses including retail stores, malls, restaurants and movie theaters to reopen on Friday, though occupancy at these businesses will be restricted to 25 percent. The order also allows libraries and museums to reopen under the same guidelines, though hands-on or interactive exhibits will still be restricted.
“Now it’s time to set a new course, a course that responsibly opens up business in Texas,” Abbott said at a press conference. “Just as we united as one state to slow COVID-19, we must also come together to begin rebuilding the lives and the livelihoods of our fellow Texans.
“This order allows all these businesses to reopen. It does not require them to do so.”
Barbershops, salons, gyms and bars will still be closed under the order, but Abbott said he expected them to reopen not later than the middle of May.
Outdoor sports will also be allowed as long as there are not more than four participants and they keep their distance from one another.
Locally, Caldwell County Commissioner on Tuesday voted to extend the local state of disaster through May 12, though County Judge Hoppy Haden said the local Stay Home, Stay Safe will not be extended after it expires on Thursday.
Haden noted commissioners could consider implementing social distancing measures again if the county saw a spike in the number of cases. As of Tuesday evening, county officials reported 11 confirmed cases. Five of those individuals have already recovered.
In addition to the statewide order, Gov. Abbott released a 63-page report outlining minimum guidelines that should be practiced by businesses reopening.
For restaurant, the report recommends restricting the size of parties dining in to six individuals, keeping parties at least six feet away from each other, making hand sanitizer available to upon entry to the restaurant and providing disposable menus,
Movie theaters are being encouraged to utilize remote ticketing options to help manage capacity limitations. The report also recommends that parties leave at least two empty seats between themselves and alternate rows between customers. Theater operators are also encouraged to disinfect seats and commonly touched areas between screenings.
Randy Hester, owner of Hometown Cinemas, which has a location in Lockhart, said the theaters would reopen, though not by Friday. Hester encouraged patrons to check the theater’s website for updated information.
Several local restaurants have already announced they would reopen on Friday in accordance with capacity restrictions.
Kreuz Market is among the restaurants in Lockhart returning dine-in services to its customers. To help promote the safety of its staff and customers, staff members have placed distance markers on the ground marking six feet of space. Additionally, chairs will be removed from tables to ensure parties remain a safe distance apart from one another.
Kruez Market normally has the capacity to seat around 550 people when its full, meaning around 120 people can dine in at the restaurant under the new restrictions.
Additional restaurants that will reopen on Friday include Black’s BBQ, Casa Jalisco Mexican Grill and Bar, Chisholm Trail BBQ, Grumpy’s Burgers & More, Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant, Lilly’s Bar & Grill and Lockhart Seafood & Steak and Dairy Queen.
Many restaurants have opted against reopening at this time, citing safety concerns for staff members or limited space in their facilities.
Loop & Lil’s Pizza in Lockhart issued the following statement on Tuesday:
“Despite restrictions being lifted, Loop & Lil’s Pizza has decided to continue operating as Take-Out and Delivery only,” the statement read. “After speaking with our staff, we agreed that, at this time, reopening our dining room under the new state guidelines is not the safest course of action. “When we do reopen our dining room, we will be providing the safest possible dining experience for both our staff and our patrons.”
The following restaurants in Lockhart will not offer dine-in services: La Cantera Mexican Restaurant, Load Off Fanny’s, Mario’s Tacos, Smitty’s Market, Whizzerville Hall, Chaparral Coffee, Chicken Express, Golden Chick, Little Ceasars, Whataburger and Schlotzky’s, as well as City Market BBQ in Luling.
These restaurants will provide take-out, and in some cases, delivery services for customers.
Cassie Arredondo contributed to this report