Texas reopens - to a degree
May 3, 2020
Texas is open again, to a degree at least. And how noticeable the difference is seems to depend on where you go.
Gov. Greg Abbott let Texas' stay-at-home order expire on Thursday, so the state began what was considered Phase 1 of re-opening on Friday.
Restaurants, retail stores, malls, libraries, state or locally run museums, golf courses with restrictions, and outdoor sports with fewer than four participants were allowed to return.
National museums, bars, breweries and wineries, salons and barbershops, gyms, and public swimming pools remain closed.
In Muleshoe on Friday, the biggest change from the past month and a half's bizarro world was that the Food King supermarket was like a Fort Knox for the new white gold that is toilet paper. The store's toilet paper shelves were not just somewhat stocked, they were chock-full.
But the Muleshoe McDonald's was still only allowing to-go and drive-thru orders. Same for the Muleshoe Leal's restaurant across the street. Inside Leal's, in fact, yellow-green tape cordoned off some of the booths.
Isaac Rodriguez has experienced social distancing from both sides, as a customer and small-business owner. Rodriguez owns Thirsty Mule Liquor Store on Route 70-84 in Muleshoe, but Friday afternoon he was a hungry citizen getting take-out from Leal's.
Rodriguez said he is wary of the state beginning to re-open.
"I think it's a little too soon," he said. "Me and my friends have very open, heated discussions about the situation."
Rodriguez is appreciative of his Thirsty Mule patrons, but is still exhibiting some of that wariness with regard to them.
"A lot of customers want to come in," Rodriguez said, "but I'm still trying to keep them out as much as possible. I'm slowly letting one or two customers come in. You don't know whether you're more concerned about people or the economy; I'm a people person."
At Annie & Martha's Artisan Bakery/Godfather's Pizza in Farwell, the doors were swung wide open Friday and customers were welcome to come in if and how they chose.
"We took the note off the door that said we couldn't seat anybody in the dining room," said Donna Ratke, the business' owner. "I'm going to let people be adults; they can come in and sit if they want. So we're not making any big production out of it. We do spacing, and we've been doing our extra cleaning, so we're happy to have people. But if they want to stay home I can totally respect that, too."
Ratke's customers were trickling back on Friday.
"We did have people for lunch that came in and sat," Ratke said. "Today's the first day, but we did have people for lunch."
Ratke said the birthday cake part of her business was pretty much kaput during the shutdown. Friday, though, she had seven cakes head out the door through mid-afternoon. "More than we've had in quite some time," she said.
Perhaps a sign that normal is slowly making its way back.
But not all the way back. Ratke has already put the kibosh on her business' fifth anniversary celebration, which was to be April 23 and include a parking lot dance.
"Guess we'll wait and postpone it," she said, "until later in the summer."