Does Governor Abbott’s Reopen Texas Plan Go Far Enough?

On Monday April 27, 2020 Texas Governor Gregg Abbott held a press conference regarding the next stage of reopening the Texas Economy. Many viewed Abbott’s first set of proclamations earlier in the month as more hat than cattle. Where Abbott stated that hospitals and doctors can see patients that were not deemed emergency’s and those retail businesses that were not allowed to stay open during the lockdown were allowed to reopen as “retail-to-go.” While it sounded good in a press release. Especially with the soundbyte, “Texas is the first state in the nation to reopen” it was largely more rhetoric than substance. Especially with the State of Georgia  allowing retail businesses, movie theaters, restaurants and hair salons to reopen this week.

Many had hoped that Texas would not meanly follow Georgia and actually take the lead of fully reopening the economy. While restaurants, retail, and movie theaters are going to be allowed to reopen May 1st, Those reopening are going to have many strings attached. First being occupancy, where restaurants and retail will only be allowed to have 25% of their pre-COVID-19 capacity utilized at any one time. Some would argue that is not as drastic as it sounds due to the fact at any given point are fast food restaurants ever over 25% full or likewise sit-down restaurants outside of Friday or Saturday night. If that was the case then why build said dining facilities with 75% extra capacity in the first place? Same can be said for retail. While many stores are never even come close to capacity, others such as the Apple Store will have permanent cues in place until the occupancy restriction is lifted. How are movie theatres not going to be operating at a loss with each screen at least 75% empty, that is whenever Hollywood is going to start releasing movies again. Only the Alamo Drafthouse would seem to have content available to actually open with their themed nights, while other national chains have stated they will remain closed for the foreseeable future.

While oddly theatres are allowed to reopen on May 1st. Hair salons and barber shops are strangely not. These businesses are highly regulated to begin with and in order to remain licensed not only do their hair stylists and barbers have to be accredited and licensed themselves, they have to adhere to numerous sanitary standards. Many people view hair treatment as a form of personal grooming, where at these salons they can get a deeper clean of their hair than they would normally. Likewise some individuals hair needs to have constant trimming otherwise it would quickly turn into a tangled unsanitary mess. Many members of the population have suffered mental trauma not being able to have their hair cut, cleaned, and manicured. Makes many question why the Governor is waiting well past the middle of may to reopen these institutions. Bars too are also not on the list to reopen May 1st and many restaurants tow the fine line of what is a bar and what is a sit-down restaurant that serves alcohol. Example Does the “bar seating” at say Red Lobster have to remain closed or can it reopen with the rest of the dining room? Likewise can a brew pub that derives more than 51% of it’s revenue from alcohol but has sit down dining with a food menu have to remain closed with more traditional bars?

These are the questions many in the State of Texas ask. It seems once again the government is picking “winners and losers” which businesses can reopen, and which one’s must remain closed. Those that can reopen are saddled with undo restrictions, especially with evidence showing that social distancing did nothing to stop the pandemic, and in fact made it worse prolonging the time the population was able to achieve passive herd immunity. Texas is not New York which seems to be the only part of the Continental United States to have a severe outbreak. Also of note is New York has the strictest quarantine regulations in the county, but has the worst outbreak. Makes you wonder.

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