Texas Retailers Reopen


Mike Mozart

Nonessential retailers include those that exclusively sell clothing, jewelry, toys, books, etc. Photo courtesy of Mike Mozart

In the past week, Governor Greg Abbott announced that retailers would be able to reopen.  Stores that chose to reopen are limited to curbside pickup or delivery and must follow strict sanitation guidelines. Customers are not permitted to go inside stores due to social distancing concerns. 


“We will be getting input from medical professionals,” Mr. Abbott said in a news conference, “as well as business and community leaders to determine the safe and sure way to reopen business in Texas without spurring the spread of the coronavirus.”

Some safety requirements have already been placed down. Payments must be made remotely and contact between employees and customers must be minimal. Employees are also required to wash their hands frequently and stand apart from each other so that they do not infect themselves or contaminate the products they handle. 

Though the decision to reopen is good news for some nonessential workers, it also raises questions about the appropriate time to reopen stores completely and allow customers to come in contact with each other. 

Such health-related concerns are becoming more pronounced as the expiration of the current stay-at-home order draws closer. Texas has also had a shortage of testing, making it more difficult to evaluate how widespread the virus is. Mr. Abbott’s order for Texas is set to end on Thursday, April 30, while Travis County’s order, Stay Home-Work Safe, will cease on Friday, May 8. The orders have decreased nonessential activity in the county by 64%, according to Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt. 

“I bet we can do better,” Ms. Eckhardt said on Twitter. “Let’s keep staying home and working safe. We are saving lives. It’s far better for us to over-prepare than the alternative.”

Likewise, numerous health officials, such as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, have emphasized to take caution in restoring regular economic and social life. Nevertheless, rising unemployment rates have created controversial nationwide calls to fully reopen the economy, and Mr. Abbott’s decision to reopen retailers coincides with the rise of these demands.