by WorldTribune Staff, April 20, 2020
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday issued a series of executive orders aimed at re-opening the state amid the coronavirus crisis.
“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, noting that the number of infections is “beginning to level off” and the death toll, while tragic, has “not come close to the early, dire predictions.”
“We have demonstrated that we can corral the coronavirus,” Abbott added.
The governor’s re-opening orders include:
• State parks re-opened on April 20 with the exceptions of Franklin Mountains and Hueco Tanks in El Paso. Social distancing rules are still in effect during visits to state parks.
• Starting on April 21, health care facilities may perform a limited number of nonessential surgeries, so long as they preserve at least 25 percent capacity available to treat coronavirus patients and don’t deplete medical resources.
• On April 24, retail businesses will be allowed to begin product pick-up. Abbott calls it “retail-to-go,” which allows stores to bring orders to the cars of customers in the same way restaurants are currently doing curbside pick-up of food orders.
Face coverings, keeping a distance of 6 feet between each other, and no group gatherings larger than five people are all rules that still apply.
Additional openings will be announced April 27 “after further input from medical staff,” Abbott said.
The governor pointed to April 27 as the next date on which he could announce additional steps to re-open the economy. “One of the things that we will consider is the elimination of the stay-at-home policy,” Abbott said. The policy announced late last month expires April 30.
“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.
“By coming together, we can get Texans back to work, practice safe standards that will prevent the spread of COVID-19, and we can overcome this pandemic,” the governor said.