CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that his stay-at-home order, which he issued earlier this month over COVID-19 concerns, will expire as scheduled on Thursday.
It means a slew of businesses -- including restaurants, retail stores, and movie theaters -- will be able to reopen with some restrictions on Friday.
"We’re thrilled about it," Water Street Restaurants President Richard Lomax said. "We couldn’t be happier. We want to be as safe as we can, but obviously we want to get everyone back to work.”
Lomax's family operates Water Street Oyster Bar and Executive Surf Club. They employ around 200 people, but had to furlough 170 of them during the COVID-19 economic downturn that he says cost them 90 percent of their normal sales.
This week, he plans to offer the furloughed workers their jobs back, but he's not sure if everyone will take him up on his offer.
“Some of them might not feel safe coming back to work, and of course we wouldn’t make them do that,” Lomax said.
Abbott's order requires restaurants to only allow a quarter of their occupancy limits to dine at one time. Lomax said his businesses will abide by that restriction simply by removing tables and chairs from the dining areas.
He said even operating at just 25 percent capacity will make a difference.
"Just to get people back and smiling faces back in the building," Lomax said. "It’s no fun to see a restaurant and no one in it. So I think from a morale standpoint, getting Texas back open, it’s going to make a huge impact."
Some people are concerned that Texas is reopening too soon, but Abbott said he conferred with medical experts before making his decision.
“(Businesses) need to be unleashed to restore livelihoods while all of us remain focused on protecting the lives of our fellow Texans," he said. "We are Texans. We’ve got this.”
For a full list of businesses that can reopen and what restrictions they face, click here.