SAN ANTONIO — Starting Friday, some businesses will be able to reopen in Texas following the governor's latest mandates.
The state’s new order allows movie theaters, restaurants and retail stores to get back to work. The reopening is a sigh of relief for many, but it comes with its own set of challenges.
Phase One of Gov. Greg Abbott's plan calls for allowing restaurants, retail stores, theaters, malls, museums and libraries to open Friday, while maintaining a strict 25% occupancy limit as the coronavirus continues to spread through the state. KENS 5 spoke with two different businesses that have faced their own set of challenges during the pandemic.
Stone Oak Orthodontics has been preparing staff members and the office to reopen. Orthodontist Tito Norris said they have taken several steps to ensure patients and employees remain safe.
Norris said when patients enter the office, access will be touch-free. On Thursday, the business installed a plastic shield at the check-in, and employees will also be wearing masks. Norris added there is a system in place to reduce the aerosols that are produced during the removal of orthodontic appliances.
“We’ve actually taken a few steps further. Every office member has been tested for COVID-19, and therefore it’s reassuring for patients coming in,” he said. “There were 1,200 patients who missed their appointments over the last month. We are in the process of contacting those patients today.”
While Norris’s business is gearing up to open doors, another business owner can’t open at all. Terry Corless, CEO of Maddogs Restaurant Group, was forced to lay off nearly 200 employees from multiple downtown locations. He said even if they could open now, his businesses wouldn’t be able to make up for the loss.
“We work in a competitive business. Our margins are often very small, and to only work to 25% capacity is a model that doesn’t let us break even, let alone make profit,” he said.
Corless’s locations are categorized as bars rather than restaurants. Abbott said that if Phase One goes smoothly, the state will open gyms, bars and hair salons by mid-May. The occupancy limit would also be raised to 50%.
But Corless said even if they could open now, his businesses wouldn’t be able to make up for the loss.
“We’re going under every time the clock tick by, ticks by,” he said. “The longer we wait, the more difficult it is to get it right. And the end result is going to be possibly a lot of people in the unemployment lines, a lot of businesses closing."
The state of Texas has laid out a document that will detail the next steps.