Houston business owners eager to hear Gov. Abbott's reopening plans

Thursday, September 17, 2020
Business owners eager to hear Abbott's reopening plans
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Business owners are hoping this time around, the planning and execution of this reopening will be different.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- When Texas began letting businesses reopen in the summer, a huge spike in COVID-19 cases followed, and now business owners are praying the anticipated next wave of reopening will be more successful.

Gov. Greg Abbott has alluded to expanded reopening on the horizon. He's set to make an official announcement Thursday, which could include allowing some establishments like restaurants to open at 75% capacity.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has emphasized the need for more reopening the state.

"People have to go to work. People have to go back to life as usual," Patrick said.

RELATED: Gov. Greg Abbott to hold press conference tomorrow on state's reopening

The last time Abbott raised capacity allowances to 75% in June, he was forced to reverse the order due to the sharp rise in cases.

That's one of the reasons other policy makers said now is not the time. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said the bungled reopening in the summer cost lives.

"People died who didn't need to die. A lot of people got sick who didn't need to get sick, and it set us way back," she said.

Left in the middle are business owners who want to promote health, but also want to stay afloat. Restaurants were among the first businesses hit hard by the pandemic and the shutdown.

Eyewitness News followed the story of locally-owned BurgerIM in downtown Houston. The hamburger spot was only open a few months before the closure. It struggled, but managed to stay open with hard work from staff members and owner, Humberto Martinez.

SEE MORE: Houston-area businesses, restaurants and bars not reopening after pandemic

In April, Martinez said he understood the need for the shutdown. Five months later, he told ABC13 that he hopes the governor would allow more reopenings.

"I think it's time. Honestly, I do. We're six months into this," Martinez said. "A lot of restaurants around us have been closing up really fast and it's pretty worrisome, but we're still hanging in there."

Some medical experts like Dr. James McDeavitt with Baylor College of Medicine are also raising alarms about reopening more right now, saying the state needs a lower daily case count before reopening.

"A thousand cases a day that is far too many to do real contact tracing. We need to get that down to 200 cases a day, or less," McDeavitt said.

But for businesses barely holding on, they hope better planning and better execution can let the next round of reopening succeed where the previous one failed.

"What we may not survive is this economy if this continues any longer," Martinez said.

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