Gov. Abbott concerned about COVID-19 rise with protests, encourages policing legislation

Texas

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In an interview on KXAN News at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott added more clarity on the plan to move into Phase Three of the state’s reopening strategy and encouraged Texas lawmakers to start legislation on policing policies immediately.

Effective immediately, the state’s third phase for reopening the economy during the coronavirus pandemic is in place, Gov. Abbott announced on Wednesday. The final part of the state’s strategy allows most businesses to operate at 50% capacity, starting Wednesday. On June 12, restaurants may expand their capacity limits to 75%.

“Texas is getting back to normal with regard to opening up businesses. It’s going to be great to see now that our restaurants are going to be able to have 75% capacity and bars are increasing to 50% capacity,” Gov. Abbott said.

Gov. Abbott has passionately spoken against the events that happened with George Floyd in Minneapolis calling Floyd’s death in police custody “horrific.”

“My first response is one of anger because what happened to George Floyd is horrific. Should never happen…we need to make sure nothing like this happens in the state of Texas,” Gov. Abbott said. “There is a reason why people are angry and protesting about this. It’s part of the United States of America where people have a First Amendment right to voice their complaints about actions like this. At the same time, we need to make sure the protests remain free from violence, from vandalism because the First Amendment does not authorize someone to throw a brick through a glass window and destroy somebody’s property. That’s exactly why we have law enforcement out to make sure that all protests remain peaceful.”

Protests against police brutality and racism have continued throughout the country over the last week since Floyd’s death on May 25, ranging from peaceful demonstrations to incidents of violence, vandalism and looting.

Gov. Abbott says they are aware of a potential rise in COVID-19 cases in the state, due to large demonstrations. Texas plans to make testing capabilities available for anyone that participated in a protest.

“It is something we need to keep a watchful eye out for,” Gov. Abbott said.

Gov. Abbott says Texas lawmakers will be proactive on crafting new legislation related to police brutality, saying the work starts now before session begins in January 2021.

“Now is the time for legislators to start bringing up ideas, proposing ideas, testing those ideas with their fellow legislators and they will get a feel for the possibility of being able to pass meaningful legislation,” Gov. Abbott said.

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