Is Texas the first state to roll out a timeline to begin reopening?

AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 29: Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced the US Army Corps of Engineers and the state are putting up a 250-bed field hospital at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in downtown Dallas during a press conference at the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Sunday, March 29, 2020. The space can expand to nearly 1,400 beds. Joining him are Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd (left) and former State Representative Dr. John Zerwas (right). (Photo by Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images) (Pool, 2020 Getty Images)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Friday easing some coronavirus measures next week. The announcement makes Texas one of the first states to roll out concrete steps and a firm timeline to lift such restrictions.

Vermont also recently announced a firm plan to reopen some sectors in the coming weeks. On Friday, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott outlined a five-point plan to reopen the state, allowing some employees in certain sectors to return to work starting April 20. Other state governors including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have signaled they plan to announce similar reopening measures in the coming days or weeks.

In Texas, Govt. Abbott directed retail stores to begin reopening April 24 and instead deliver products to customers’ cars and homes. He also ordered state parks to reopen by Monday, directing residents to wear face coverings, keep a distance and stay in groups of five people or less. And, beginning April 22 restrictions on elective medical procedures will be loosened. Abbott said the process of reopening the state will happen gradually and will be guided by medical experts.

Instead of kicking off a full restart, the Texas governor announced that a group of medical and economic experts will guide him through a series of incremental steps aimed at slowly reopening the state’s economy.

The group’s aggressive name, the “Strike Force to Open Texas,” belies Abbott’s surprisingly cautious framework. Additional plans to reopen the state’s economy will come April 27, and Abbott stressed they will be determined by “data and by doctors.”

Still, Abbott is ahead of the curve as one of the first big state governors to announce a timeline for lifting his April 2 stay-at-home order.

"Opening in Texas must occur in stages," Abbott said during his briefing Friday. "Obviously, not all businesses can open all at once on May 1." A premature opening of private businesses, he said, would risk further outbreaks and "be more likely to set us back, rather than to propel us forward."

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