Governor closes schools, opens state parks with restrictions, adds retail to-go

During a news conference April 17, Governor Greg Abbott announced his reopening plans for Texas, but schools will remain closed through the rest of the academic year.

The governor released additional executive orders, including closing all Texas schools — public, private, charter, and higher education institutions — though the remainder of the 2019-20 year. Previously, the governor closed in-class learning through May 4 to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes the respiratory disease COVID-19.

As of April 17, local COVID-19 cases stood at eight in Burnet County, five in Blanco County, and three in Llano County.

Abbott also unveiled a plan to allow some retail businesses to offer to-go services beginning April 24.

The governor also announced he would reopen state parks on Monday, April 20, but visitors must follow strict guidelines, including:

  • wearing face coverings
  • staying 6 feet from people not within their group
  • limiting groups to five people or fewer

As expected, Abbott also discussed reopening Texas but on a limited basis.

The governor created the Strike Force to Open Texas, made up of nationally recognized medical experts, public officials, and private leaders who will advise Abbott on a sate strategy for “opening the state of Texas.”

“Texans are battling a colossal challenge — an invisible enemy that has tested our lives and our livelihoods — but overcoming challenges is part of who we are as Texans,” Abbott stated in a media release. “We have shown that Texas can continue our efforts and contain COVID-19 while also adopting safe standards that will allow us to begin the process of reopening Texas.

“The Strike Force to Open Texas brings together nationally recognized medical experts with public and private sector leaders to achieve this mission,” he continued. “By coming together, we can get Texans back to work, practice safe standards that will prevent the spread of COVID-19, and we can overcome this pandemic.”

One of his executive orders is regarding “the safe, strategic reopening of select services and activities in Texas,” according to the media release.

The order allows for a temporary “Retail-To-Go” model that will let some retail businesses reopen beginning April 24. These businesses would sell goods “through pickup, delivery by mail, or delivery to the customer’s doorstep in strict compliance with the terms required by (the Texas Department of State Health Services). DSHS requirements may be found at www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus,” according to the executive order.

One of the strike force’s first tasks is to look at other activities and services that could potentially be reopened. The governor will announce an updated and revised plan based on these recommendations on April 27.

For more on how COVID-19 is affecting the Highland Lakes, visit the DailyTrib.com coronavirus resources webpage.

daniel@thepicayune.com

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