Gov. Greg Abbott is working on the next step in his plan to reopen the Texas economy, and could announce what those steps are today or Monday, he said in a radio interview Wednesday.
His next executive order, Abbott said, could include reopening places that would make wise virus-controlling practices more difficult. They include hair salons, movie theaters and restaurants.
“You’re going to be able to-go dining under safe standards, you’re going to be able to get a haircut, you’re going to be able to go to hair salons, but we’re going to make sure there are safe standards in place,” the governor told a North Texas radio host.
What those safe standards are, and how effective they might be, will be determined by medical advisers, Abbott said in further interviews Thursday. It will be interesting to see what has changed already to allow a more generous series of openings.
Just five days ago, we lauded Abbott’s incremental, cautious approach to begin easing restrictions in place since the scope of the novel coronavirus became more clear to leaders. A sudden acceleration in that manner to allowing “massive amounts of businesses” to reopen is concerning.
The initial measures were prudent. The governor emphasized there would be a period of judgment on what broader impact they would yield. With retail-to-go just starting today, it’s difficult to see how that can be measured.
Infections continue to climb in the state’s most populous counties, and most every day the number of Texas counties with cases increases.
A suggested geographic approach — allowing businesses in places with low case counts to open while those still near peak levels stay closed — misses modern reality that people don’t get haircuts and dine out in their own neighborhoods. An open sit-down restaurant in Bay City, for instance, is likely to draw people from Pearland, Rosenberg and other places not far up the road still in the throes of the disease.
Brazoria County, with its comparatively low numbers, still sees a consistent number of cases day in and day out — numbers that could head higher if its businesses open and attract those from areas where COVID-19 remains widespread.
We are as anxious for small businesses to be able to open their doors again and welcome customers inside. We want to be able to go out for a freshly prepared hot meal we don’t have to prepare ourselves. We want to join our friends over an adult beverage, game of basketball or other activity that builds community.
But we want to do it when the time is right, the danger is past and doing so does not threaten our well-being or that of anyone else.
There likely will be no time when there is zero risk to reopening, and at some point we have to allow businesses to begin to operate freely and people to return to some sense of normalcy. With so many unknowns about the novel coronavirus, there will be some level of gambling involved in when to throw that switch.
Economic and political pressures to do that sooner rather than later is immense. An extra week of data and eased approach to large-scale reopenings, the manner presented by Abbott a week ago, is more in line with the path the governor said he intended to follow.