EAST TEXAS, (KSLA) - Another morning and another major announcement from Texas Governor Greg Abbott in the fight to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
On Thursday, June 25, Governor Abbott placed the state’s reopening plans on pause. The very next day, Friday, June 26, Governor Abbott ordered all bars in Texas to close at noon.
Abbott also announced a major change for restaurants.
At the moment, restaurants are operating at 75% capacity. This was part of Phase III of reopening that began in Texas two weeks ago, but on Monday that will drop down again to 50%.
This all comes just one day after the governor said "the last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards."
Inside Miguel’s Mexican Food in Marshall, it did not take long to hear that the governor announced restaurants must dial back to their Phase II occupancy percent on Monday.
Miguel Lopez says he felt worried about the speed at which Texas was reopening.
”It was too fast. I saw that coming,” Lopez said.
That’s why Lopez says he kept his restaurant at 50%, fearing just this sort of scenario might play out.
Many people say they do understand Governor Abbott’s intention, including customers like Thad Carter.
“I think if it’s necessary then that’s what they need to do because the primary concern needs to be the health of people, you know. And I salute the governor. I support him for what he’s doing, even though it’s difficult,” Carter said.
Part of the difficulty comes from people who disagree about dialing back reopenings, like retired marine Don Neal, from Hallsville.
Neal pulls no punches when talking about his own philosophy on confronting COVID-19, even as Texas sees another spike in cases.
“You just gotta keep going, you know. We can’t stop because of this, you know. You just gotta keep doing what you’re doing. And if it’s a big deal to you, then you know, wear a mask. And protect yourself,” Neal said.
Many citizens, like Tyler and Selena Marcel from Longview, Texas, say they aren’t affected by the bar closings.
Tyler began, “We don’t go enough to really care.”
Selena Marcel added, “Yeah, I mean, it’s probably not very good for their business. But at the same time, I think people want to get alcohol they can go to their homes.”
Tyler said they understand the need for people to just get out of their homes after being stuck inside for so long.
“It may suck for people but it’s not going to last forever. So, eventually, they’ll be reopen. It’ just the season we’re in,” said Tyler.
Whether it be a bar, or a restaurant, owners like Miguel Lopez say there are some distinct advantages of operating a business in Marshall, as he has for the last 16 years.
“I think in Marshall we had a good relationship with our community because we, it’s a small town and we know each other,” said Lopez.
According to a copy of Governor Abbott’s latest executive order, a bar can remain open for delivery and take-out, including for alcoholic beverages. Rafting and tubing businesses must close as well.
The question then becomes will any of this help slow the spread of COVID-19?