As businesses reopen, ‘we will have to be very careful,’ local mayor says

(WNDU)
Published: May. 6, 2020 at 3:56 PM CDT
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Barbershops and hair salons can reopen Friday, but with some restrictions under new orders that Gov. Greg Abbott issued Tuesday, further easing restrictions put in place to help stem the spread of COVID-19, but Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver expressed concern Wednesday about the timing.

“While I am glad to see some of these businesses reopen and get back to work, I am concerned about continuing to open new segments of the economy without the 14-day waiting period that (the governor) announced in his earlier press conferences as being a necessary measure,” Deaver said.

“I think we will have to be very careful.”

“There is some question whether or not the state is in shape to reopen,” Deaver said Wednesday, but “as the governor pointed out yesterday, the ratio of positive cases has decreased.”

That is good,” he said.

On April 27 Abbott announced that retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, malls, museums and libraries could reopen on May 1, but occupancy must be limited to no more than 25% of capacity and interactive areas of museums must remain closed.

Barbershops, hair salons, bars and gyms weren’t among the businesses he said could reopen effective May 1 during the first phase of the process of rolling back shutdown orders, but said if the first phase went well, they could be allowed to reopen in mid-May.

His announcement Tuesday set a reopening date at least a week earlier than that.

Beginning Friday, hair, nail and cosmetology salons and barbershops will be permitted to serve one customer per barber or stylist with six feet of separation between each chair.

Stylists and barbers must wear face masks and customers who are waiting for service must stay outside or in their vehicles.

Tanning salons may also open, provided they ensure at least six feet of separation between work stations.

Outdoor swimming pools may reopen, but only at 25% capacity.

Gyms and exercise facilities may reopen on May 18, but locker rooms and shower facilities remain off limits.

But residents shouldn’t view the push to reopen as a sign that the threat of COVID-19 has lessened.

Texas reported 1,000 new cases of the virus on Wednesday.

“I think easing economic restrictions makes sense, but our governor was clear this wasn’t a suggestion to return to life as usual,” Family Health Center CEO Dr. Jackson Griggs said Wednesday.

“We could lose that very quickly if we become lax on health behaviors. It won’t take long for us to catch up to other communities if we throw caution into the wind. We should not misinterpret the governor,” he said.

“There is no new strategy, but we must maintain these same practices of social distancing of six feet from people not in the household, wearing masks, and staying home unless you have to go out.” Griggs

Earlier Wednesday Waco officials announced the cancellation of the popular Brazos Nights Concert Series and the annual Fourth on the Brazos celebration because of the uncertainties surrounding the new virus.

The Texans Back to Work Task Force Wednesday released its 113-page final report, which includes more than 400 recommendations for employers, employees, the public and state and local governments.

The report says the coronavirus epidemic “presented many opportunities for learning” and says the lessons leave the state “better prepared for a resurgent coronavirus as well as for future pandemics if we heed them and prepare accordingly.”

“We strongly believe that the Texas economy can be safely and effectively reopened and restored to 100% in the not too distant future,” the task force concluded.

“Using the knowledge gained since the pandemic began, we believe business owners can use their creativity and ingenuity to formulate safe and effective protocols for their businesses to open and stay open,” the report says.

“It is the market that is the ultimate arbiter of how businesses can be successfully opened. Businesses and other organizations that don't develop safe and effective protocols will lack customers whether or not their doors are open as customers and employees will only return if they feel safe.