MIDLAND, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – Governor Greg Abbott announced on Monday that retail, restaurants, malls and movie theaters are not required, but allowed, to open come this Friday, May 1st. Midland Mayor Patrick Payton says Abbott’s newest order comes after seven West Texas mayors sent him a joint letter asking to reopen Texas.
“It’s just critically important that we be a unified front, because West Texas sometimes has to fight for itself and for what it needs. So we’re just very proud we got to be a part of that,” said Payton.
Payton says Abbott’s new executive order closely mirrors their request. In the letter, the mayors asked that businesses be allowed to reopen at 25 to 30 percent capacity.
“Many small businesses that are just hanging on by a thread, or those that will have to restart – I’m just excited Texans will get the chance to go back to work.” said Payton.
A second wave of businesses could re-open as early as May 18th, but Abbott stated experts need at least two weeks of data to confirm it is safe to do so.
“If Phase One works while containing COVID-19, Phase Two will expand that occupancy to 50%. Further increases will be allowed in the future, so long as COVID-19 remains contained,” stated Abbott.
But for some small business owners like, Richard Steinberg, they believe governmental restrictions have gone too far.
“Some how this whole thing morphed from flattening the curve to trying to keep people from getting this, and you won’t,” explained Steinberg.
Steinberg is a co-owner of Bear Claw Knife & Shear in Midland. He says while his small business complied and shut down at first, it is time to say enough.
“Shutting down businesses for any reason just shouldn’t be allowed. It’s unconstitutional,” said Steinberg. “I appreciate the governors taking steps to open things up, but everything should open up. There’s no reason to keep anything closed at this point.”
Governor Abbott stated officials will closely monitor each phase of this reopening process. He also said he understands businesses like barbershops, nail salons, gyms and bars are in high demand. Experts are working to create a plan to safely open those businesses up next.