AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott said on Wednesday that Texans, at least in many parts of the state, soon may be able to visit hair salons and stores.
Previewing what he has said could be a lifting of his stay-at-home order on Monday, Abbott told a conservative radio talk-show host that he was determined Texas should keep its ranking by some publications as the nation’s most business-friendly state.
“We’re going to be making an announcement opening so many different types of businesses, where you’re going to be able to go to a hair salon … go to any type of retail establishment you want to go to, different things like that, with a structure in place that will ensure that we slow the spread of the coronavirus,” he said.
In his appearance on “The Chad Hasty Show” on Lubbock’s 95.1 FM and KFYO-AM, the Republican governor said:
· Life “is not going to be like it was before,” and Texas “won’t be fully opened,” but restrictions he ordered last month will be significantly eased.
· Counties with high rates of coronavirus infection won’t be permitted as much leeway. He cited Moore County in the Panhandle, which has 7.43 cases per 1,000 residents, and nearby Potter and Randall counties, which include Amarillo, as having “too high of a growth rate right now.”
· When commerce starts to widen, “there will be some level of expansion of the spread of the coronavirus.” But, he said, “We can handle that, as long as the expansion is very minimal.”
· Businesses that reopen will have to “follow the safest practices.” Though he mentioned “distancing practices,” he didn’t explain how safety would be maintained in hair salons and other personal-care businesses.
Currently, Abbott has the entire state under an executive order requiring people to stay home unless they are participating in activities deemed “essential.” It lasts through April 30.
On Tuesday, Dallas County extended its stay-at-home order through May 15.
Also Tuesday, at a Capitol news briefing in Austin, Abbott said his revised plan would overrule orders by local government officials.
‘There will be standards’
As he has said before, Abbott told Hasty he was not reviving economic activity in a way that amounts to “rushing the gates and having everybody get sick and having to close businesses down again.”
He noted that he has four physicians as medical advisers on his new Strike Force to Open Texas.
“Because we have this team of doctors working with us, advising us on the safest way to do this without spreading the coronavirus, there will be standards,” he said.
Asked by Hasty whether he agreed with what the talk show host described as Amarillo’s letting tanning salons and small boutiques reopen, Abbott said he wasn’t familiar with the city’s actions.
Asked about a move by Colleyville to let restaurants resume dining service on outdoor patios, with spacing between patrons, on Friday, Abbott acknowledged that there might be some “tension” between what the Tarrant County city is doing and his orders.
But he stressed that any differences could be resolved in a phone call.
Asked about criticism that he was moving too fast to reopen businesses — or not fast enough — Abbott said it could be done “in a safe way that doesn’t lead to a retrenchment.”
Without mentioning Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who on Fox News on Monday suggested he’d prefer a faster reopening, Abbott told Hasty he was “looking at the long game” on recovery from COVID-19 and the economic hardship that social isolation has caused.
“There’s some people who want to be real impulsive and think about ‘let’s just focus on tomorrow,’” Abbott said. “I’m focusing on the next year.”
The virus is “still here,” he cautioned.
“In typical Texas fashion, we are going to continue to lead America for doing business by doing this in a smart way and in a sustainable way.”