Local Restaurants Respond to Abbott's First Phase to Reopen Texas Economy

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Some businesses can unlock and reopen their doors, starting Friday. Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott Monday announced the first phase of “reopening” the state economy.

Some restaurant owners said they were eager to open, while others said not so fast. At Sixty Vines in Uptown, locals are picking up their food to go for now. CEO Jeff Carcara said there’s no master class on running a restaurant during a global pandemic.

Gov. Greg Abbott joined NBC 5 to answer questions about what’s next for the state during the coronavirus pandemic. Julie Fine asks Gov. Abbott why he thinks it’s safe to re-open some businesses on Friday, April 28, 2020.

“I haven’t talked to anybody who doesn’t see this as just a complete anomaly,” Carcara said. “Something that no one could be prepared for.”

What he has prepared for since shutdown, though, was the day he could reopen.

“Our teams are super excited to get back to work. We’ve been calling our team over the last 10 days anyway to let them know it’s probably coming,” he said.

The green light came Monday from Abbott. Starting Friday all retail, malls, libraries and restaurants can welcome customers back inside.

“We will open in a way that uses safe standards. Safe standards for businesses for their employees,” Abbott said.

He said those who open must cap occupancy at 25%. Carcara explained what that might look like at Sixty Vines. He also said they’d enforce the 25% rule by taking reservations only for now.

“We think we can get close to 100 people, plus a little outdoor dining also,” he said. “We want to be safe. We want to make sure our guests and our team is as safe as possible, and we can’t have lines at the door.”

Not every business owner is onboard. In a tweet from Heim Barbecue, the Fort Worth-based restaurant said it would not reopen its dining rooms yet.

Dallas Mayor Eric Jonson released a statement saying the governor has the final say, but Dallas should continue to practice social distancing, good hygiene, protecting the vulnerable and increase testing and contact tracing.

His statement is below.

“The governor has made a decision and, under Texas law, he has the final say in these matters, so now it is incumbent upon all Texans to ensure that this plan is successful. Dallas residents and local leaders have worked hard to flatten the curve of COVID-19's spread, and we must continue our commitment to social distancing practices, good hygiene, protecting our vulnerable populations, and doing all we can to increase testing and contact tracing.”

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said he asked Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Dr. Philip Huang, along with other experts, to review Abbott's order. Jenkins emphasized keeping Dallas County citizen safe was his first priority.

Carcara said he respected each business owners’ decision, but he looked forward to getting his team back to work.

“We’ve been planning on reopening,” he said. “We are prepared. We’re excited.”

Abbott said he hoped to roll out phase two of his plan by mid-May, but wanted to see two weeks of data to ensure there are no “flareups” of new cases.

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