Gov. Abbott’s plan to slowly re-open Texas businesses will succeed only if residents follow the medical community’s advice, local doctors and city leaders say.

The governor is expected to ease restrictions imposed by his emergency declaration last month in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I believe options like curbside service are doable,” local physician Dr. Carolyn Salter told the Herald-Press Friday.  “However, the only way to keep the most vulnerable members of our community from exposure is for everyone to do their part.”

“Doing their part,” includes following social distancing guidelines, such as remaining six-feet from other parties, frequently washing and sanitizing hands, and wearing surgical masks in public.

“If people would wear masks diligently, we’d all be better off,” Palestine Mayor Steve Presley told the Herald-Press.  “A mask, bandana, or any kind of cloth covering greatly reduces the risk of exposure.”

Presley said the slow re-opening of Texas businesses is important to both the state’s economy and the mental health of residents.

“I don’t think we’ll be back to normal, as we know it,” he said.  “But we can come close to it, as long as we, as a society, can follow the rules.”

In a conference call with city and county leaders Friday, Abbott said he will release details next week on his plan to amend the state of emergency he declared last month.

During a Thursday television interview, Abbott said he would probably not order a statewide mandate to wear masks.

Visitors to recently re-opened state parks, however, are required to wear surgical masks, as well as practice social distancing.

Abbott's plan, to-be-announced Monday, probably will permit most businesses to re-open, using curbside pick-up and internet or telephone payments, when available.

Public venues, such as movie theaters and restaurants, will need reconfiguring to adhere to social distancing guidelines, before they may re-open.

Abbott said he expects to open those businesses, along with barber shops and hair salons, by the end of May.  Beaches, he said, should open to the public by summer.

In a radio interview last week, Abbott said he expects to see a small expansion of the spread of the coronavirus after commerce re-opens. “We can handle that, as long as the expansion is very minimal,” he said.

Salter, who said the virus in Anderson County is still rising, said the expansion will be greater if people refuse to follow the rules.

“A lot of people still aren’t following the guidelines,” she said.  “We will definitely have a larger spike if the pubic doesn’t start following the rules.”

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