Only in Austin…
Governor Greg Abbott Urges Texans to Wear Masks
Calling the ongoing surge in coronavirus cases “unacceptable,” Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday urged Texans to wear masks in public. The governor reiterated established voluntary practices to protect against the virus including staying home when possible, using hand sanitizer, keeping six feet of distance from others and wearing a mask when social distancing is not feasible.
Emphasizing that the last option would be to close down the state again, Gov. Abbott said Texas’ strategy to address the rising numbers is to step up enforcement of places where large crowds gather, such as bars, surge testing in possible hotspots and ensure hospitals continue to have capacity for COVID-19 patients.
Texas Schools Will Reopen This Fall
“It will be safe for Texas public school students, teachers, and staff to return to school campuses for in-person instruction this fall,” Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said last week. “But there will also be flexibility for families with health concerns so that their children can be educated remotely, if the parent so chooses.” Draft documents posted on the Texas Education Agency website Tuesday show the state is planning few mandatory coronavirus prevention measures when public schools reopen in fall, but recommends staff and students wear masks, hand sanitize regularly and stay six feet away from each other.
In higher education news, many Texas universities are shelving SAT and ACT requirements as the coronavirus pandemic has heavily affected the admissions process. The University of Texas at Austin, Baylor University, Texas Tech University, Texas Christian University, Southern Methodist University and St. Edward’s University have all temporarily scrapped their testing requirements through 2021; Texas A&M University will announce a decision regarding exam requirements in the coming weeks.
To-Go Alcohol Sales Could Be Made Permanent in Texas
In mid-March, Governor Greg Abbott signed a waiver allowing to-go alcohol sales in Texas in an effort to support struggling restaurants that had to close their dining areas during the coronavirus shutdown. On Saturday, the governor tweeted his support for making those sales permanent. State Representative Tan Parker replied with a pledge to file a bill in the legislative session that convenes in January to extend to-go alcohol sales past the coronavirus pandemic, and include bulk retail food items in the measure.
The Texas Restaurant Association recently proposed expanding the current waiver, which has been extended indefinitely, to also allow mixed drinks with liquor to be prepared, resealed and sold, as a way to boost sales that have leveled out in recent weeks. The proposal included safety recommendations, including ways to seal the drink and rules for where customers can keep alcohol.
The Memo will take a break during the month of July. Have a wonderful July 4th holiday, keep washing your hands and know that we will share Capitol news with you as soon as it develops.