AUSTIN, Texas - On April 25, people continue to gather at the Texas Capitol to protest Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to reopen businesses amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Earlier in the month, Texas became the most recent state in the U.S. to host a protest calling on the government to ease social distancing restriction and to allow the workforce to resume.
Hundreds gathered maskless, standing shoulder-to-shoulder at the Texas State Capitol, and Governor's Mansion, calling on Governor Greg Abbott to “re-open” the state.
Protesters could be seen embracing and posing for photos together.
Friday, Abbott did release a plan to re-open the state, in phases. Starting this week, restrictions on surgeries, state parks, and retail will be loosened. Abbott says the plan will be guided by data and medical professionals.
“I understand. [Re-opening the state has] gotta be slow, but it can't be this slow.” said protester Jennifer Bailey.
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With each passing day, the situation becomes more dire for Bailey, a Killeen hairstylist. “I'm not insensitive to the virus and everything else. But at the same time, you can't tell people to choose death or homelessness. What do you pick? I mean, it's just it's not a decision anybody could possibly make in reality." Bailey said.
All the stylists at Bailey's salon, identify as self-employed, which has made filing for unemployment, challenging. She has been unsuccessful thus far.
“You took my job away but then you’re not giving me the income that I’ve been promised. I’ve paid taxes for twenty years.” Her business applied for an economic injury disaster loan and hasn’t heard back. “We won’t survive, small businesses will not survive,” she said.
They then wanted to apply for an SBA loan through the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, but Thursday the federal government announced the program was out of money and shut down applications.
“I've gone 30 days with zero income. So, you know, I just want people to think about, you know, how long can you keep your house and business running off your savings what you have in the bank right now?” she asked.
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At home with two adult daughters and a parent to care for, Bailey wants the option to see some clients. “I'm not asking to like go make what I was making right off the bat. Let me keep us afloat. Let me pay our bills at the shop. Let me pay my bills at home.”
Protests have been reported in other capital cities in states like Virginia, Michigan, Maryland and, Minnesota.
“Businesses cannot handle this, and Americans cannot handle this.” said protester Justin Greiss, Vice President of Grassroots for Young Americans for Liberty, or YAL. Greiss believes Texans should be given the option to go back to work.
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