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Some Republicans Demand That Governor Reopen More Businesses In Texas


Texas retail stores, restaurants, malls and movie theaters can now operate at 25% capacity. That's because the state began to tentatively reopen segments of its economy today. As NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports, that has earned Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who announced his decision on Monday, rebuff from both sides of the ideological aisle.

WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: At a press conference Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott told his state it was time to start reopening.


GREG ABBOTT: Many have lost jobs. Others have lost businesses. Many are struggling to pay their bills. I want those Texans to know they are not alone in this fight.

GOODWYN: Stores, museums, libraries, movie theaters and malls can open at 25% capacity. Dentistry and elective surgery will also return. Most Texas movie theater chains have declined the offer for now. Restaurants responding to a Restaurant Association poll were about evenly split on whether they'd reopen. In essence, it's a soft opening for the Texas economy, and for some conservatives, it's not nearly enough.


MARK KEOUGH: I have to tell you, the most difficult part of it for me was, first of all, that we're opening up at only 25% occupancy.

GOODWYN: In Texas, it's the county judge who takes charge in emergencies, and Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough isn't happy on a couple of fronts. Montgomery County is a big suburb of Houston with a good-sized lake that needs summer dollars. In a YouTube announcement to his county, Judge Keough said he doesn't like the Texas governor picking winners and losers by deciding who can partially open and who can't.


KEOUGH: Here is a guy who's a dentist - has his hands in your mouth for maybe 2, 3 hours, maybe only a half hour. But the fact of the matter is now we have closed hair salons, who would take 15 minutes to a half hour and cut your hair, and we keep them closed. And then we turn around and let these other guys be open when it's much more intimate and invasive.

GOODWYN: The judge said Montgomery County was reopening everything all the way today, period. The Texas attorney general warned the judge not to do it, but for now, it appears to be a standoff. Medical associations across the state generally gave the governor guarded approval for opening at just 25% and then waiting two weeks to see if they can go to 50%.

TOM BANNING: Gov. Abbott unveiled what I think is a very measured and thoughtful approach to reopening the economy.

GOODWYN: Tom Banning is the CEO of the Texas Academy of Family Physicians, which is generally a little to the left of the Texas Medical Association. The medical community is apprehensive about the reopenings around the country.

BANNING: The reality is that no one knows whether it will work or not and whether we will see an uptick or a spike in COVID-19 cases. Frankly, we are embarking on a grand experiment not only in Texas but the rest of the country.

GOODWYN: Down in San Antonio at the Alamo Quarry Market, 25-year-old Michael Ryan (ph) and 22-year-old John Garcia (ph) just bought some sneakers, no doubt making Rack Room Shoes happy. Both are wearing masks.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: So I decided to come early just to maybe beat the crowd, but I am definitely happy to be out shopping. It's a beautiful day in San Antonio. I've got a new pair of shoes, so that's exciting.

GOODWYN: From Maine down to Florida across the West to Idaho, 23 states will be reopening or partially reopening soon. Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, Dallas.


Wade Goodwyn
Wade Goodwyn is an NPR National Desk Correspondent covering Texas and the surrounding states.