“GET OUT OF THE WAY”: State Rep. Schaefer says cities and counties need more power to reopen

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TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Tyler State Rep. Matt Schaefer spoke with KETK News about Gov. Abbott’s executive order amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

“So when you balance the risks that we’re seeing locally in East Texas against the risks of people not getting the healthcare they need for other reasons and the risks of very severe financial downturn, we believe that it’s time for Governor Abbott to turn back to the local communities and say ‘let us figure out how to respond to this locally in a way that is responsible and also continues to keep protections in place for people that are vulnerable, elderly, and people that have medical conditions,'” he said.

When asked about the possibility of opening up the economy, Rep. Shaefer believes it should open up now.

“Our healthcare system is well-positioned, they understand what is at stake and they’re much more prepared than they were at the very beginning of this process,” said Rep. Shaefer.

He went on to say local leaders are capable of making decisions regarding the community without the assistance of the Texas Congress.

Several businesses have had to close due to the ‘essential business’ order, but Rep. Schaefer said there is a way to keep everyone open in a responsible way.

“I think we need to look at some of the other ones have already done, what makes sense,” he said. “Continue the social distancing, continue to use the CDC guidelines, we don’t have to have mass crowds everywhere, there’s a way for businesses to open, even restaurants I believe could open if you take out a number of the tables and have people sit at tables of just four and not be so close to each other. There’s some ways we could do this that are reasonable.”


State Rep. Matt Schaefer wrote a letter to Gov. Abbott about his executive order amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

Schaefer, the vice-chairman of the Texas Freedom Caucus, sent the letter with eight other Texas lawmakers.

“Texas must immediately increase healthcare and business activity while maintaining protections for the must vulnerable Texans. Accordingly, we respectfully as that you loosen your statewide executive order to the greatest extent possible while giving local jurisdictions the flexibility to respond to local conditions.”

Letter to Gov. Abbott from the Texas Freedom Caucus

The letter also reads that “It is ultimately the individual Texan’s responsibility to keep themselves safe, and to ensure the safety of those who cannot protect themselves.”

Schaefer’s district covers Tyler and much of southern Smith County, which currently leads East Texas in coronavirus cases with 104.

Abbott has said that this week he will be issuing an executive order aimed at helping some small businesses reopen.

In a countywide stay-at-home order, Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran has allowed small businesses to remain open if they follow a “locked door” provision. This states that the business must run operations with the door locked to the general public and that there only be 10 employees inside.

Moran said that this was done to protect the “mom and pop” shops throughout the county.

Many Republicans in Texas and around the nation have increased calls to get the country reopened and back to work as the economic impacts from the COVID-19 shutdown continue to be felt.

In the last three weeks, more than 16 million people have applied for unemployment throughout the country, an unprecedented number that shatters previous records.

Abbott’s executive order runs through April 30 and some of the provisions included banning groups of people larger than 10 as well as keeping schools closed until May 4.

Abbott also announced on Monday that $50 million in loans for small businesses would be made available thanks to a partnership between Goldman Sachs and the LiftFund.

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