At a press conference on Friday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott laid out plans to begin reopening Texas businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re now beginning to see glimmers that the worst of COVID-19 may soon be behind us,” Abbott said.
Abbott announced that all schools will be closed for the rest of the academic year and state parks will be open on Monday, April 20, though people must still wear face masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines.
“In opening Texas, we must be guided by data and by doctors,” Abbott said. “We must put health and safety first. We must prioritize protecting our most vulnerable populations.”
Abbott said they will get input from medical professionals, business people and community leaders to determine the “safe and sure way to reopen business in Texas without spurring the spread of the coronavirus.”
The governor also issued an executive order that creates a statewide “strike force” that will work on re-opening Texas. Lieutenant Governor
Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton, Texas Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen and State Comptroller Glenn Hegar will serve on the strike force, along with medical advisors and business owners.
“Opening Texas must occur in stages,” Abbott said. “Obviously not all businesses can open all at once … A more strategic approach is required to ensure we don’t reopen only to have to shut down once again.”
Abbott also issued an executive order that will loosen the restrictions surrounding surgery that will “allow doctors to diagnose and more medical conditions without needing to get an exception.”
Another executive order Abbott issued will allow Texas stores to start “retail-to-go” starting Friday, April 24.
“Because we’ve seen that this model works while also containing COVID-19, we believe that all stores in Texas should be able to operate retail-to-go, beginning next Friday, one week from today,” Abbott said.
Abbott said he will announce additional measures to open the Texas economy on April 27 after further input from medical staff.
“Together we can bend the curve,” Abbott said. “Together we can overcome this pandemic. We can get folks back to work. We can adopt safe strategies that prevent the spread of COVID-19 and step by step we will reopen Texas.”
Courtesy Eddie Gaspar/The Texas Tribune