CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — There was a little more traffic Friday, as Gov. Greg Abbott’s stay-at-home order expired overnight, allowing many non-essential businesses to reopen.
For the first time in more than six weeks, the public was allowed inside La Palmera Mall, one of several business welcoming people back Friday. The hustle-and-bustle of retail commerce was a welcome distraction for many after being cooped up for more than a month.
“I’m really happy, man,” said Chris Gutierrez. “I’m happy get out of the house. It was getting pretty crazy.”
For many, it was a day they had been looking forward to.
“As soon as I read the news, I was elated that I could go out, stretch my legs and go shopping,” said Irma Garza.
The mall closed March 22 as COVID-19 started sweeping across the country. However, several stores still are closed, and others only are offering curbside delivery.
Inside, crowds were manageable and shoppers say they felt safe inside.
“As long as we sanitize our hands, maintain social distancing and wear masks, I think we’ll be OK,” said Garza.
Nearby, the Corpus Christi Trade Center also welcomed shoppers, and on the south side, the South Texas Botanical Gardens were also open for business.
“This is one of the prime blooming seasons, so we’re glad we’re finally able to give people a chance to see what’s happening out here,” said Executive Director Michael Womack.
The botanical gardens currently are only taking debit and credit card or online payments. The visitor center, gift shop, and indoor exhibits also are closed, and other safety measures are in place.
“We are requiring face masks for all guests while they’re here, and staff,” Womack said. “We’re also doing extra sanitizing of commonly touched surfaces.”
The next phase of Gov. Abbott’s reopening plan is scheduled to start May 18, as long as there isn’t a spike in COVID-19 cases.