ANNA - Local leaders reacted quickly to Gov. Greg Abbot’s April 27 announcement that Texas businesses would be allowed to reopen in phases beginning May 1
“Now it’s time to set a new course, a course that responsibly opens up business in Texas,” Abbott said. “We will open in a way that uses safe standards: safe standards for businesses, for their employees as well as for their customers. Standards based upon data and upon doctors.”
Under the plan retailers, restaurants and movie theaters can open again with reduced capacity. The situation will be monitored for two weeks with the hope that additional restrictions can be lifted at that time.
As of April 28, bars, hair salons and gyms must remain closed. Abbott said that he hoped those businesses could reopen by mid-May.
In response to the governor’s call for feedback, Collin County Judge Chris Hill submitted a six-point recommendation that called for, among other things, the elimination of the distinction between “essential” and “non-essential” businesses as well as a six-month extension to regulation waivers enacted by the state.
Hill also called for a statewide tax holiday in the near future to help families maximize their financial resources.
“Collin County families are facing two significant dangers today: the threat to our public and personal health from COVID-19, and the threat to our ability to provide for our families’ most basic needs,” Hill said. “It’s time for Texas families to get back to work. In doing so, we can successfully address both challenges facing Texas today. If we ignore either threat at the expense of the other, we all lose.”
The governor’s order supersedes any local ordinances.
They city of Anna’s emergency declaration said as much, specifying that its restrictions would fall in line with new state guidelines when they were announced.
During the April 28 City Council meeting, council members had a spirited debate about the continuation of the city’s March 17 disaster declaration.
Councilman John Beazley in particular was wary of extending the guidelines on mostly philosophical grounds.
He contended that since the city was already part of a state and national disaster declaration, there was no need for local disaster declaration as well.
Beazley was also concerned that extended disaster declarations give too much authority to executives at all levels of government.
“We fought a revolutionary war to get away from that,” he said. “An extended period of duration of this is alarming, and I think it needs to stop.”
City Manager Jim Proce countered that not extending the disaster declaration could hinder the city’s ability to receive FEMA reimbursements for COVID-19 related costs.
“When you engage the state and the federal government, the first thing they ask to see is the local state of declaration,” Proce said, “and if you don’t have it, it becomes problematic.”
Anna Mayor Nate Pike recommend that the council continue the declaration for time being, saying that the potential risks outweighed any perceived benefits.
The council ultimately decided to not take any action, allowing the declaration to continue.
As of April 28, there had been 15 COVID-19 cases in Anna and 10 in Melissa. County-wide, the number of cases had increased six days in a row and stood at exactly 200 cases.
The total had not topped 200 cases since April 10, when it stood at 212 cases after peaking at 225 cases the previous day.