Businesses near UT-Austin decide whether to reopen under Abbott’s new order

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Photo Credit: Jamie Hwang | Daily Texan Staff

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.

Restaurants, museums and libraries around campus are facing the decision to reopen after Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order allowing businesses to reopen at 25% capacity starting May 1.

While some restaurants will offer dine-in options, such as Pluckers, which announced the shift on May 1, others have decided to either open for take-out or not to open all. Kerbey Lane, a 24-hour diner on The Drag, announced it would not reopen for dine-in on its Instagram on Tuesday. Lucky Lab, a West Campus coffeehouse, announced via Instagram that it would open for window pick up only.

Gee Nee, co-owner of Raku Sushi and Asian Bistro in West Campus, decided not to reopen for dine-in services because he said the risk was too high. Although Raku Sushi and Asian Bistro has continued delivery and takeout services, Nee said it has had to make cuts, as well as ask its landlord to help make ends meet.

“Safety comes first,” Nee said. “We're okay to not make money. Let's go operate and …  discover the cost. Having someone sick and then a lot of workers (around them) working inside the restaurant (is) very risky, and we don't want that to happen.”

Sustainability junior Shu Vivi works as a shift supervisor at the Starbucks on 24th and Nueces, which has decided to reopen, but only provide take-out services. She said she worked at a drive-through Starbucks while the West Campus location was closed and will return to the West Campus location when it reopens.

“I'm scared to open because what if we open up too quickly and it's not safe enough to do that?” Shu said. “But, … it's a really hard, emotional time (and) we need to be understanding and we need to be open and know that everyone's going through this differently. I think that part is one of the hardest things that I'm gonna have to deal with.”

The Blanton Museum of Art and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum will remain closed until further precautions can be put in place, according to Blanton media manager Carlotta Stankiewicz and director of the LBJ Presidential Library Mike Lawrence. 

Stankiewicz said for the Blanton, future changes may include the way visitors purchase tickets and move through different exhibits. 

“Even if the University says we can open at some point, we still need to be able to make sure that we are able to do that in a way that's safe,” Stankiewicz said. “It's a balance of making sure that we're adhering to what the University recommends, as well as what to do individually for our organization.”

Lawrence said because the LBJ Library and Museum is a federal institution, they have communicated with other presidential libraries across the nation to discuss how to change practices. As of now, they have not set a date for reopening, she said.

“The one thing I think that can be said with confidence is that the opening will be in stages,” Lawrence said. “It's pretty clear that there's not going to be some moment when we all decide …  COVID is behind us and we can get back to normal. It's going to be a gradual process of adjusting to a new normal.”

This story was edited to correct the name of a source. The Texan regrets this error.