AUSTIN, Texas - On Monday Texas Governor Greg Abbott provided an update on where the state's re-opening and restrictions stood, as his order to scale restaurant capacity back to 50 percent went into effect.
“It’s been really hard, you know? We laid off a lot of people in the beginning and that was really tough,” said Raymond Canfield, owner of the Shoal Creek Saloon in Austin.
Like most restaurant owners, Canfield says COVID-19 has been difficult. “I’ve had a lot of sleepless nights just trying to figure out what to do.”
He says with social distancing, the restaurant is running under 50 percent as is, but now he worries about additional cuts. On Monday Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe wrote a letter to the governor, calling on him to scale restaurant capacity back to 25 percent.
“That wouldn’t be good for us. I think we can be alright at 50 percent, but 25 is gonna be sort of tough to deal with, and we’ll do the best we can,” he explained.
Abbott, who also ordered bars to close Friday, said “usually it will take about a week to ten days before you can see the effects” reflect in case numbers, adding that state authorities are studying where people get sick and imposing restrictions accordingly.
Biscoe also called on Abbott to allow metropolitan areas to roll all the way back to stay-at-home orders based on circumstance, adding that if Abbott did not comply with his requests outlined in the letter, he should “roll back your restriction on local leaders being able to take these swift actions to safeguard the health of our communities.”
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Abbott shut down the idea of a “total shutdown” — something Canfield says would be devastating. “We need to be more balanced and measured in our approaches,” said Abbott.
Local officials would need Abbott to authorize them to enact a shutdown, as the governor's orders supersede local orders. On Monday, Abbott argued against “denying a job to anybody, because that particular job may not be spreading COVID-19.”
Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority Mark Escott said he is considering calling Biscoe and Austin Mayor Steve Adler to enact a local shutdown. Sunday, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins tweeted a letter he sent to Abbott, requesting a statewide shelter at home order.
“[Jenkins] seems to want to continue to force poverty on people by having a stay at home order that will crash all these people that were now out working earning a paycheck. There were people who had difficulty making ends meet,” said Abbott.
Biscoe also called on Abbott to enforce mandatory masking. Abbott says he will leave decisions surrounding masks in the hands of local leaders, as Texas is a large state with varying case rates.
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