Editor’s note: This story is part of The Daily Texan’s coverage of how coronavirus concerns are affecting UT-Austin. Read the rest of our coverage here.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced executive orders to open retail stores for “retail to go” services, create a task force to reopen the Texas economy and increase the amount of surgeries allowed by hospitals at a press conference Friday.
Texas business will be opening up in stages. The first wave, starting next Friday, will include the opening of retail businesses in Texas for “retail to go” services, allowing citizens to shop but not enter retail stores. A second wave could come April 27 and a third in early May.
Abbott said because delivery services have been successful in the food industry, it has shown this can be expanded.
“What businesses need to understand is that we can open so long as these businesses and all Texans make sure they are practicing the safest standards that will prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Abbott said.
Abbott also ordered schools to remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.
Texas will also be reopening state parks starting Monday, Abbott said, but will require parkgoers to wear face coverings.
Abbott said the task force to reopen the Texas economy will gather information and make recommendations for how to open businesses safely. The team includes Texas entrepreneurs and medical professionals, including Dell Medical School’s Dr. Parker Hudson and Dr. John Zerwas, executive vice chancellor for health affairs at the University of Texas System.
“In opening Texas, we must be guided by data and doctors,” Abbott said. “We must put health and safety first. We must prioritize protecting our most vulnerable populations.”
Abbott said due to the number of hospital beds and new supply chain of personal protective equipment, surgery restrictions will be loosened starting April 22 to allow procedures such as cancer screenings. Abbott said abortions were not part of this order.
“Today, Texas has plenty of hospital capacity,” Abbott said. “We have a solid supply chain of (personal protective equipment), and many of our doctors and nurses have patients who desperately need medical treatment. This will allow doctors to diagnose and treat more medical conditions without needing to get an exception.”
Abbott said additional executive orders will be issued April 27, which may include an update to the stay-at-home order Abbott issued through April 30.
“If the data lines up, there’s a possibility of going back to the standard we had in Texas before the stay-at-home order,” Abbott said.