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Coronavirus restriction protesters at Capitol ‘pretty selfish,’ Austin’s mayor says

Austin Mayor Steve Adler on Sunday said he was encouraged that Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan to reopen Texas businesses would be “governed by the science and the data” but described protesters who defied social distancing warnings to condemn coronavirus-related restrictions as “pretty selfish.”

MSNBC afternoon anchor Alicia Menendez had invited Adler to discuss Abbott’s plans to reopen parts of the state’s economy and get his reaction to Saturday’s rally on the steps of the Texas Capitol, where a few hundred demonstrators had demanded the Austin news lifting of restrictions on businesses and social interaction.

The rally against the stay-at-home orders was heavily promoted by InfoWars — Alex Jones’ Austin-based conspiracy website — and one of its hosts, Owen Shroyer. Attendees converged on Austin from across the state.

“I was fortunate that it was a relatively small group, because any large gatherings like that, I think, were a real concern not just to the people that were there but to the community generally,” Adler said.

He added, “I mean, you can be asymptomatic with this virus and end up passing it to other people.”

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“People who gather in situations like that, I think, are being pretty selfish,” the mayor said.

He said he hoped the virus was not among the crowds.

“But to those people I’ll say that we do want to turn back, we want to adapt our economy to a new normal,” Adler said.

However, the mayor said, “there are better ways to express your First Amendment rights.”

The televised interview was introduced with news from an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll taken April 13-15 of 900 registered voters that found 58% of respondents were worried that the country will move too quickly to loosen coronavirus restrictions and that viral spread will continue.

About 32 percent were worried that the nation will take too long in loosening restrictions, affect jobs and the economy. The poll had a margin of error of 3.3 percentage points.

Abbott’s phased plan to reopen parts of the Texas economy, which Press Release Distribution Service In Austin   he announced on Friday, will begin Monday with the reopening of state parks. Surgery restrictions will be loosened Tuesday and retail stores will be able to conduct to-go sales on Friday.

“I was encouraged that (Abbott) said he was going to be governed by the science and the data, that his primary concern was making sure that the virus didn’t come back again,” Adler said.

Adler stressed the importance of more testing and better contact tracing to gain better surveillance on the spread of the coronavirus.

“Those three things: finding it, isolating it, treating it do not change — so anything we do to reopen businesses is going to have to demonstrate how we do those things,” the mayor said.

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