One weekend into reopening the state of Texas for business and things … things aren’t really going back to normal.
Texas Governor Greg Abbot’s order to roll out plans to reopen the state for business, but in stages, was met by heavy optimism and excitement by a wide variety of the public and business owners. Then the reality began to hit and suddenly that excitement was dampened significantly.
I’m not sure what anyone expected. The COVID-19 pandemic that began this whole mess still exists. We have just been very lucky here in Del Rio. Go look at the numbers of infected and even killed by this virus in places like Harris County, home to Houston; Travis County, home to Austin; and Dallas County, home to Dallas, obviously. Even Laredo, a town Del Rioans visit regularly for work and entertainment, has been affected by the virus with 396 positive cases and 17 deaths. They have had 124 recovered, so that’s good news.
Despite getting the go-ahead from Abbott to reopen, several businesses, from retail to restaurants, chose to remain closed or continue to offer curbside or drive-through service only because they simply aren’t ready to re-open just yet. That’s their priority and we should respect their wishes. Continue to support them if you can, but don’t start applying some kind of pressure on these business owners to re-open if they aren’t comfortable doing so.
I do feel bad for our barbershops, hair salons, massage technicians, nail salons and others who still cannot open. Those business owners are ready to get back to work and help bring even more normalcy, and a little bit of grooming, to the public. Let’s hope they get to open soon, but please don’t ask them to break the law by offering their services “on the side.” A hefty fine won’t do anybody any favors in these economically stressful times.
Another aspect of Abbott’s re-opening plans was to relax the use of masks by the general public. While not explicitly saying masks weren’t necessary, Abbott said neither fines nor arrests should be assessed should people move about in public without them.
To many folks, that meant bidding a not-so-fond farewell to those mouth coverings, but that didn’t mean all of the businesses were abandoning the masks policy. Some places around town still require folks to wear masks should you decide to shop there, and some folks are not happy they have to choose between a mask and groceries or snacks.
Sorry to break it you, folks, but those businesses are private businesses and have the right to ask you to wear a mask. And besides, we had to wear masks for several weeks as we went about our daily business. You’re trying to me that you suddenly “can’t find one”? What were you doing for those few weeks? Hunkered down in your survival bunker and listening to the latest Alex Jones podcast about lizard people?
Arguing with store managers about a policy they probably had no hand in writing, especially if it’s a chain store, makes you look entitled, makes everyone uncomfortable and will probably get you ridiculed on social media. In short, it’s not a good look.
I’m pretty sure the masks thing won’t be permanent, but this will be the new formal for a while. Does it make everyone happy? Nope. Does it make employees feel safer? Probably. But these are the baby steps we have to take as the state re-opens to the masses. The more we do now, the less we will need to do down the line as more and more of the state begins to re-open.
Brian Argabright is the sports editor for the Del Rio News-Herald.