UPDATE 4/23/20 10:10 AM: On Wednesday, Gov. Abbott went on WBAP radio, where he was reported saying that at the next upcoming press conference, he will reveal plans to reopen more businesses around the first week of May.
As Gov. Greg Abbott continues to talk about making plans to reopen the state, two Texas businesses are taking it upon themselves to actually implement reopening plans.
Many businesses have been either closed or highly restricted due to the shelter-in-place policies enacted throughout much of Texas. By the end of March, a year-over-year analysis showed that unemployment in Texas had skyrocketed by over 2,000 percent; over a million Texans are now without work. At the same time, the price of oil has collapsed, sending Texas’ most-known industry into deep trouble.
Through three press conferences, Texans waited for Abbott to announce the stages at which Texas will reopen. While moving to open state parks, for over a week he has only talked about potential plans and is instead waiting on his “strike force” to present ideas—which they won’t even do until next week.
Meanwhile, local governments like Dallas County are trying to extend shelter-in-place policies beyond the end of Abbott’s statewide order on April 30.
Texas business owners are showing signs that they are done waiting on Abbott and their local government officials for a clear, decisive plan.
The Basement Bar, located in the legendary Fort Worth Stockyards area, is a honky-tonk that bills itself as “Fort Worth’s Best Place to Dance.” Yesterday, they announced on their Facebook page that they “have played the game long enough.”
“We abided by the rules set forth to help prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed and to ‘flatten the curve.’ Since March 18th, we have been closed. We always put our customers first as well as theirs and our employees’ safety. As most of you already know, more and more evidence is brought to light everyday that most of this was all nonsense and grossly over-exaggerated. We feel it is most important to stand up for our freedoms and get our employees back to work, it is our right. We can no longer neglect our livelihoods for the illusion of safety put forth by our city leaders. There’s no more ‘Y’all Stay Home,’ it’s ‘Y’all Get Back To Work!’”
The bar announced it will reopen on May 1.
Meanwhile, in Midland, Bear Claw Knife and Shear owner Richard Steinberg posted on his store’s Facebook page to announce plans to reopen this Friday, blasting Abbott’s decision to only allow curbside service at small businesses. Steinberg said the politicians who made these decisions “should be fired.”
“[T]hey shut down all the small business and allow the big box stores to stay open. And now we are finding out that this virus, though nothing [to] scoff at, is not nearly as bad as they originally said,” reads the Facebook post.
In an interview with Texas Scorecard, Steinberg—who has been a past supporter of Abbott—weighed in on the governor’s appointed task force to reopen Texas.
“Committees these days are just a way for politicians to skirt their responsibilities,” he said. “The stalling tactic from the governor is unacceptable. It doesn’t give any confidence to business owners that the economy will ever open.”
“Where is the leadership here?” he asked. “Why isn’t anyone looking at the numbers like we [small business owners] are?”
Steinberg’s post went on to describe how the store will be taking strong measures to ensure they prevent any possible spread of the coronavirus when they reopen.
Mark Darville, owner of Darville Company in Odessa, posted to the recently formed Facebook group Open Texas, “Thankfully, my team and I work in essential service [HVAC Contracting] so are still working. However, if I did not, I would open up by May 1 and I will certainly support those who do.”
Darville’s post echoes the sentiments of countless Texans who are growing tired and are suffering due to the shutdown policies.
The Open Texas group was launched on April 13 and has grown to over 38,000 Texans. The page’s description says, “We are residents of Texas that stand for The Constitution and demand our officials Reopen Texas no later than April 29, 2020. We are losing our small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy. The shutdown is not warranted, nor sustainable for our area.”
Texans may contact Gov. Abbott and their local governments to voice their opinions.