Coronavirus in Texas: Most state parks reopen Monday in first phase of broader loosening of restrictions

State parks reopen Monday in first phase of broader loosening of restrictions
State parks reopen Monday in first phase of broader loosening of restrictions

(Texas Tribune)Monday’s biggest developments

  • State parks are reopening Monday
  • U.S. and Mexico extend restrictions on nonessential travel

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro calls on small business loans to pass through nonprofits

[11:30 a.m.] U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, wrote a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Jovita Carranza, administrator of the Small Business Administration, calling on the department to designate billions of dollars to local nonprofits in the next round of federal support to small businesses.

Known as Community Development Financial Institutions, these groups support small business owners who did not have strong enough relationships with banks in order to land funding in the first pass of forgivable federal loans in the Paycheck Protection Program that legislators intended to keep employees on company payrolls.

"It is essential that upcoming legislation automatically authorize certified CDFIs as lenders for PPP and include a set aside of at least $65 billion to be channeled through these CDFIs," Castro wrote. "These institutions play a leading role in serving farmers, as well as veteran, family, women, and minority-owned small businesses in rural, urban and suburban communities.

“Latino businesses commonly bank with smaller financial institutions versus larger banks who are prioritizing businesses that already bank with them.”

Congress may return to Washington this week to pass a new round of federal aid. — Abby Livingston

U.S. and Mexico extend restrictions on nonessential travel

[10:12 a.m.] The United States and Mexico are extending travel restrictions on the southern border for at least 30 more days, the Trump administration announced Monday.

The extension means that most nonessential travel will be restricted from both countries in the continued effort to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. The same restrictions are also in place on the northern border.

Essential travel includes crossing the border for medical or educational travel, emergency response and “lawful cross-border trade,” according to Department of Homeland Security guidelines announced last month.

Allowing trade to continue is crucial to Texas as the state’s economy continues to slide because of the pandemic. Billions of dollars in two-way trade pass through both countries every week, with the bulk coming through the Laredo and El Paso customs districts.

Over the last month, Mexico has also increased its stay-at-home orders in that country and has closed large parts of the country. — Julián Aguilar

State parks reopening are the first phase of Greg Abbott’s plans to restart the Texas economy

[6 a.m.] Most Texas' state parks are reopening Monday, almost two weeks after Gov. Greg Abbott ordered them all closed to fight the spread of the new coronavirus.

Texans may visit the parks, but are required to follow strict social distancing rules. Visitors must wear face coverings, maintain a 6-foot distance from people in other parties and avoid gatherings of more than five. There are some exceptions, however. Franklin Mountains and Hueco Tanks state parks in El Paso remain closed. State and local officials remain concern about the fast spread of the virus in El Paso.