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Saturday, June 10, 2023


Students remain cautious as social distancing measures relax

Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

Along with residents across the state, University students returned to reopening businesses on May 1 following the expiration of Texas’ stay-at-home order. 

With establishments including restaurants, movie theaters, malls and retail locations operating at 25 percent of the total listed occupancy, students are engaging with the Houston community while continuing to practice cautionary measures and social distancing. 

These cautionary measures include wearing masks and washing their hands, while maintaining social distance of a minimum of six feet of space between an individual and the people outside of their home. 

Exploratory studies sophomore Reilly Hrachovy plans to continue engaging in social distancing, as well as ordering takeout rather than dining in and making trips to the grocery store only as needed.

“With restaurants, I do feel like I will now be more likely to go to places that are staying with to-go orders only, just to support businesses that I feel like are making the responsible decisions,” Hrachovy said. 

Restaurants were given the green light to allow limited dine-in services under the first phase of Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan to reopen the Texas economy.

While the executive order stipulates that only restaurants with less than half of their overall receipts coming from the sale of alcoholic beverages are eligible to permit dining in, it does not mandate that restaurants offer this option. 

Texas is among the forty-three states where elected officials have relaxed their initial stay-at-home restrictions and permitted the reopening of certain non-essential businesses such as restaurants, with Abbott stating that Texas’s stay-at-home order “has done its job to slow the growth of COVID-19.” 

On the Saturday following the reopening of non-essential businesses at limited capacity, Texas experienced the second-largest diagnoses of confirmed coronavirus cases in a single day since the pandemic began, with 1,324 new cases. 

In the two weeks since the limited reopening of Texas businesses, the state has reported more than 1,000 new confirmed cases of coronavirus per day, with the exceptions of May 4 and May 7. 

For students, the relaxing of social distancing has raised concerns about the impact that increased physical interaction could have on the spread of the coronavirus.

“I am very afraid of what’s going to happen,” Hrachovy said. “It feels like people’s lives are at stake and our priorities are in the incorrect places. It’s a scary world we live in when people are willing to sacrifice other people ‘for the sake of the economy.’”

For more of The Cougar’s coronavirus coverage, click here.

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