"What we're doing is just sticking our toe in the water to test the temperature. It's a way to get people out and find out is it safe to go back out," said Patrick Jankowski, senior vice president of research at Greater Houston Partnership.
He says restaurants and retail make up nearly a fifth of jobs in the region, but reopening won't bring back every job overnight.
He predicts a full economic recovery could take 18 months to two years, but he believes some good things could come out of it, like better saving habits and more productivity when people return to work.
"I think people actually have a better appreciation for having a job, Jankowski said. "If you lose your job or see people around you lose your job, you're more appreciative of the job you have. Also, there will be more structural changes in the economy. The way we do business will be different."
"For one thing, the restaurateurs themselves don't know how many people are going to be showing up," Jankowski said. "Same thing with retail -- when they get some sense for how many people are going to be ordering meals and sitting down to eat them or how many people are going to be coming in to the store to try on a new suit or purchase shoes, then they don't have an idea of how much they'll need to staff up, but this is going to be very gradual."
FULL INTERVIEW: Patrick Jankowski's take on reopening after COVID-19 closures
MORE ON REOPENING TEXAS:
- Texas Reopening: Gov. Abbott lays out his plan
- Master list of Houston restaurants reopening for dine-in service
- What you need to know about Houston-area malls reopening
- Do you think it's too soon to reopen Texas?
- Businesses in Houston-area get shut down after opening too soon
Follow Raven Ambers on Twitter and Facebook.