Central Texas reopens for business, sort of

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(KWTX) Some Central Texas residents headed out Friday, perhaps for the first time in weeks, as some retail stores, two of the region’s three shopping malls and some restaurants reopened, but others, fearful of the new coronavirus, stayed home.

Employees of the Mexia Farmhouse say customers were filing in Friday even with the capacity limits. (Photo by Drake Lawson)

Some retailers chose to remain closed and some area restaurants opted out of reopening as well, choosing instead to continue to provide drive-thru and takeout service.

Malls in Waco in Killeen were open, but the Temple Mall remained closed.

Security personnel and managers were monitoring the number of customers entering the malls.

Stores were responsible for tracking how many customers entered their doors as well.

Both malls closed off certain areas to limit groups of people gathering together including food court tables.

On Monday Gov. Greg Abbott released 63-page report "Texans Helping Texans" detailing the process of reopening the state’s economy starting on Friday.

Retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, malls, museums and libraries were allowed to reopen Friday, but they had to limit occupancy to no more than 25% of capacity including staff and employees.

Interactive areas of museums remain closed.

Doctors, nurses and dentists were also allowed to return to work Friday with few restrictions, churches are allowed to expand capacity, and certain sports activities involving no more than four people such as golf and tennis are permissible.

In Waco the city-run Cottonwood Creek Golf Course, disc golf courses, outdoor tennis courts will reopen Monday along with tennis at the Waco Regional Tennis and Fitness Center.

Playgrounds and community centers remain closed until at least the middle of the month.

In Hewitt, city parks reopened, but pavilions, restrooms and playground equipment is still off limits and areas close with orange fencing are not accessible.

Restrictions were looser Friday in smaller counties with five or fewer active cases of the virus.

"First official day back in business--man we are just glad to be back and get the economy rolling again," said David Romero with Rusty's Boots and Jeans.

"We are back at it again and never skipped a beat," says Romero.

Next door employees of the Mexia Farmhouse say customers were filing in Friday even with the capacity limits.

"It's been overwhelming, everybody has been so gracious and ready to come," owner James Ward said.

Ward says even with all the precautions and limits, the businesses future looks positive.

"It's going to be a learning curve so we will see how it goes but it looks to be very positive," he said.

Although neither state nor local officials plan to require residents to wear face masks in public places, they do recommend face coverings.

Some residents, including Sheroy Dancer, were wearing face masks Friday.

"Everyone should wear their masks and gloves if they have it," she said.

Not everyone was following her advice Friday and it’s precisely because of that that local officials and health experts are concerned.

Earlier this week Waco and McLennan County said if residents are incautious, the virus could gain a new foothold.

“We want to get our economy going, but if we move too quickly we will be forced back to shelter in place and that is the last thing any of us wants,” Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver said during a virtual news conference.