The newspaper quotes one skeptical restauranteur, and he doesn’t seem to have much patience for Abbott’s ploy: “In the best of times at full capacity, restaurants have a hard time paying their bills. What I can tell you is, we’re not reopening at 25% capacity. That makes no sense at all. Am I supposed to tell my servers and bartenders to come back to work where they’re not really going to make any money in tips?”
He also notes that restaurants are “small spaces” of the sort where “it’s been shown” the virus can be spread, calling it a statistical “certainty” that at some point his staff will be exposed and infected.
The central problem here is the one Abbott (and Donald Trump) either do not want to solve or simply cannot solve. A pandemic is not something that can be politicked away with hand-waving speeches and sniveling about bad press. It will continue to kill people for as long as it spreads. The only way to stop it from spreading are 1.) determine who has the virus, and isolate them so it cannot spread or 2.) immunize the rest of the population so that they are not affected even if it does spread. The second is currently impossible. That leaves just the first.
Until we can test everyone who might have been exposed to the virus, by the millions, the only way to stop people from dying is to isolate everyone. If the costs of isolating everyone are staggeringly expensive: no shit. That was why early testing and detection was so vital, and meant the difference between our current predicament and that of nations that acted swiftly and now are facing far smaller case loads. The point of that urgency was to avoid the worst-case scenario of sending an entire country into isolation.
Now that we have lost that opportunity, due almost entirely to the Trump administration’s devotion to pretending the pandemic was not a problem during a two-month period when it most obviously was becoming one: isolation it is. If Abbott wants to change it, he doesn’t need to deliver edicts to businesses. He needs to deliver tests.