Gov. Greg Abbott announces plan to reopen Texas economy, creation of business strike force

Gov. Greg Abbott announced new guidelines to reopen Texas economy with caution. (Screenshot of April 17 press conference)
Gov. Greg Abbott announced new guidelines to reopen Texas economy with caution. (Screenshot of April 17 press conference)

Gov. Greg Abbott announced new guidelines to reopen Texas economy with caution. (Screenshot of April 17 press conference)

Image description
Gov. Greg Abbott announced new guidelines to reopen Texas economy with caution. (Screenshot of April 17 press conference)

Texas is the first state with set dates to lift certain COVID-19 restrictions as of April 17 when Gov. Greg Abbott announced three executive orders to restore more jobs while keeping Texans safe, he announced during a press conference.



"We are now beginning to see glimmers that the worst of COVID-19 may soon be behind us," Abbott said during the press conference. "Texas has the second-most recoveries out of all states in America.”



Abbott added the state should re-open with caution—in stages—given the inevitable risk of a resurgence with a disease that has no immunization.



“Not all businesses can open at once on May 1,” he said. “A more strategic approach is required to ensure that we don't reopen just to have to shut down once again. [The] openings announced today [will] include activities that should pose little to no threat to expand COVID-19.”



The governor announced the establishment of a strike force to open Texas and set the organization and duties of the task force during the press conference. The task force will gather information and decide the best way for businesses to reopen as well as determine the safe social distancing practices each business should use.



The task force includes the following individuals:





Abbott also announced that all Texas retailers will be allowed to offer to-go services as of April 24.



“Retailers are such an important part of our economy,” Abbott said. “During our battle with COVID-19 in the past month and a half we have seen some retailers sell products without customers going into stores and reducing exposure to the coronavirus. Because we have seen that this works while also containing COVID-19, we believe that all stores in Texas should be able to operate retail to-go.”

However, Texas schools are closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, Abbott announced. Teachers will be allowed to visit their classrooms for instructional videos or to clean them out, he said. TEA commissioners will provide more details regarding how to conclude this semester and conduct graduation ceremonies as well as how to conduct classes this summer.



Parks will reopen as of April 20, but visitors should wear face masks and stay six feet away from anyone from a different household as well as keep groups to no more than five people.



Surgery restrictions will also be lifted as of April 22. This will allow doctors and nurses who have been sidelined, due to the need to postpone nonessential medical procedures, to return to work.



This had previously been decided to free up hospital capacity and the personal protective equipment needed to treat COVID-19 patients. But the governor said Texas hospitals have enough capacity, as of now.



On April 27, the governor's office will announce more ways to open Texas in a safe way, Abbott said. The decisions will be based on data and how contained the spread of COVID-19 is in Texas. It will consider reopening more venues including restaurants, movie theaters and other gathering places that can provide safe distancing practices. Lastly, they will also consider expanding elected surgeries.



"Texans are battling a colossal challenge,” Abbott said. “An invisible enemy that is testing our livelihoods. Part of the Texas brand is our ability to overcome challenges. Together we can overcome this pandemic [and] get folks back to work. Step by step, we will open Texas.”

Nola Z. Valente



MOST RECENT

Franz Donuts makes doughnuts and kolaches from scratch, and it serves Columbian coffee. (Susan Rovegno/Community Impact Newspaper)
Katy area's Franz Donuts opens under new ownership in March

The cafe makes doughnuts and kolaches from scratch.

Across seven Katy-area ZIP codes, the total number of confirmed positive coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic increased to 1,084 on June 2. (Courtesy Flourish)
June 2 Katy-area COVID-19 daily case numbers increase by 40

The number of active cases in Katy-area ZIP codes in Harris County increased from 332 on June 1 to 358 on June 2, a daily increase of 26.

(Adriana Rezal/Community Impact Newspaper)
PHOTOS: Scenes from the downtown Houston march for George Floyd

People of all ages, colors and creeds packed downtown Houston June 2 to march in memory of former Houston resident George Floyd.

As protests over the death of George Floyd continue, the Harris County Public Health Department released a statement asking people to take precautionary measures if they plan to attend a protest. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: County tops 350 new cases for second straight day

As protests over the death of George Floyd continue, the Harris County Public Health Department released a statement asking people to take precautionary measures if they plan to attend a protest.

Nola Z. Valente/Community Impact Newspaper
60,000 gather in downtown Houston June 2 in solidarity with George Floyd's family

Among a series of marches across the U.S. to honor George Floyd, his hometown of Houston turned out in the thousands June 2.

Mark Flathouse, the county’s fire marshal and emergency management coordinator, said the office of emergency management is closely watching Tropical Storm Cristobal in case its path crosses into Fort Bend County between June 6-8. (Screenshot via Fort Bend County)
Fort Bend County prepares for Tropical Storm Cristobal

“In the next few days, we are going to see heavy rainfall in pockets in Fort Bend County," County Judge KP George said.

Harvest Kitchen & Bakery is coming soon to the Katy area. (Courtesy Ken Osborn)
Harvest Kitchen & Bakery to debut in Katy area mid-June

Harvest Kitchen & Bakery will open in mid-June at 21971 Katy Freeway, Katy, said Executive Chef Lori Pope, who owns the restaurant with her brother Danny Casino.

The flyer with information on George Floyd's Houston-area services was released June 2. (Courtesy Fort Bend Memorial Planning Center)
JUST IN: George Floyd visitation, funeral scheduled for June 8-9 in Houston area

A public memorial will take place June 8 at The Fountain of Praise church from noon-6 p.m.

The June 2 march will culminate with a rally at the steps of Houston City Hall. (Courtesy city of Houston)
Houston city buildings, some METRO services planned to shut down ahead of June 2 march for George Floyd

Ahead of the June 2 march with members of George Floyd's family through downtown Houston, several city services are planning to shut down early in the afternoon.

With protests over the death of George Floyd expected to continue this week in Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner has called for social distancing, and use of sanitizer and masks among protesters. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: 388 new cases, 3 deaths confirmed June 1

With protests over the death of George Floyd expected to continue this week in Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner has called for social distancing, and use of sanitizer and masks among protesters.

Here are the latest coronavirus updates for Katy-area readers. (Jen Para/Community Impact Newspaper)
Day-over-day confirmed COVID-19 cases in Katy area increase by 18 on June 1

Across seven Katy-area ZIP codes, the total number of confirmed positive coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic increased to 1,044 on June 1.