Abbott reveals plan to reopen Texas economy
Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday announced the initial steps that would be taken to reopen the Texas economy during the states continued battle against the coronavirus pandemic.
“Because of the efforts by everyone to slow the spread, we’re now beginning to see glimmers that the worst of COVID-19 may soon be behind us,” Abbott said at a live press conference, noting the number of infections is beginning level off. “We have demonstrated that we can corral the coronavirus.”
While several portions of the state’s economy will be allowed to resume operations in a limited fashion, Abbott announced all Texas schools will remain closed through the remainder of the academic year.
Several of the most immediate changes are already in effect, including the reopening of state parks, though visitors are required to wear a mask, maintain a six-foot distance from those not in their party and limit gatherings to five or fewer people, officials said.
Another order that went into effect on Tuesday allows for a limited amount of nonessential surgeries at hospitals, as long as those surgeries don’t deplete the hospitals’ supplies of personal protective equipment. Facilities are also required to keep at least 25 of their capacity available for the treatment of patients with COVID-19.
Beginning Friday, Abbott said retailer outlets will be allowed to bring orders straight to customers’ cars, dubbing the service “retail-to-go.”
Abbott noted additional openings would be announced on April 27, stressing additional steps would be taken only if the state continues to make progress in slowing the spread of the virus.
“If the data continues to show a flatlining and then a decline [in positive tests], that is a signal that we can begin the process of opening up some businesses that adhere to the strictest strategies that will reduce the spread of the coronavirus,” Abbott said.
As of Tuesday, state officials said there were 20,196 cases in Texas. Caldwell County currently has eight confirmed cases, with four of those individuals already having recovered.
Lockhart Mayor Lew White touted the governor’s actions.
“I agree with the governor’s action to [reopen businesses] slowly and make sure we don’t have spikes, and that we are on the road to recovery,” said White. “We’re fortunate that our rate of cases in Caldwell County doesn’t reflect what we’re seeing in neighboring counties.
“We still promote social distancing. We strongly encourage the use of masks. We’re glad to see the governor is offering opportunities for businesses to reopen slowly and responsibly.”
Many of the local retail businesses deemed nonessential that were closed after statewide restrictions were put into place have had to rethink the way the ways they offer their products to the public.
Following the cancellation of South by Southwest in Austin, Bluebonnet Records in Lockhart moved the entirety of its inventory online.
“As much as we love our customers, we don’t want to encourage them to put themselves at risk at this time when they can support us safely from their homes,” said Kana Harris, who co-owns the record shop with Cody Kimbell, noting the record store is offering free porch pick-up and drop-off services for Lockhart area customers.
Harris said Bluebonnet Records has also been working to produce weekly radio shows that can be found at www.mixcloud.com/BluebonnetRadio/.
“The shop’s secondary purpose is a place for people to gather and talk about music,” said Harris. “We decided that since we can’t all hang out and talk about music together and share what new tunes we find, that we would put out a weekly radio show.”
Lauren Hess, owner of Take Care Apothecary in Lockhart, said the shop has been offering local deliveries and contact-free pick-up services for customers. Hess noted most of the store’s products have been added to its website.
“It’s been working pretty well so far,” Hess said. “For now, we’re going to keep doing business this way.”
Hess noted she was considering holding hours in the future where customers could shop from the window or doorway but said there weren’t any concrete plans to implement that by Friday.
Jennifer Thomson, owner of Flash Candy and Toys on the square, said she was considering making some of her inventory available for online purchase and curbside pick-up, depending on how long restriction stay in place.
Thomson said a few of the store’s items, including select puzzles, arts and crafts items, fun novelty items, candy and chocolate treats are being sold at Bevies Fine Wine & Spirits drive-thru, noting customers could request specific items the store carries and pick them up the following day at the drive-thru if they have it in stock.