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Austin, Travis County lawmakers drafting local plan on reopening businesses

Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said officials will release more details about the plan next week.

AUSTIN, Texas — Local officials in Austin are starting to talk about how the city will get back to normal – how it was before COVID-19 – but said residents should prepare for it to take weeks or longer.

They also said they are not yet ready to give specific details for how the process to begin reopening will be put in place.

In a Facebook address on Thursday night, Mayor Steve Adler said a deciding factor to determine when to begin the process will be how much people are following a city rule that they wear face masks or coverings.

He said city officials will consider whether they can open some businesses – retail and restaurants – but with fewer people than normal.

"We have to be prepared, if we take that kind of controlled risk, we have to be prepared to [be] back to where we are now, if we have a flareup that we suddenly need to control," he said. "But we have to make that deal with ourselves, where we could move people back."

Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said on Friday officials are putting together a local plan that will involve a task force with members of the community and the Austin Chamber of Commerce.

She said officials will release more details about that plan next week.

But local officials warn that even as they begin the process of reopening, people should not expect things to look like they used to for a long time.

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