Colleyville’s amended order on patio dine-in at restaurants will remain in place until Friday when some businesses will be allowed to reopen with capacity under new state orders.
Last week, a proclamation was signed by Colleyville Mayor Richard Newton which stated restaurants with outdoor patios can allow customers to dine-in so long as distancing guidelines are followed and tables are spaced apart. It also relaxed restrictions for on-site religious services, gyms, salons, and massage studios.
The city’s amended order went into effect Friday, April 24 – a full week before businesses like restaurants, movie theaters, malls, museums, and retail stores can reopen at 25 percent capacity under executive orders issued by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday.
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“We give very careful consideration to any proclamation that I give out,” Mayor Newton told NBC 5 Tuesday. “There is no need to make any changes until we match his new order.”
Newton said his order will likely be amended in the coming days so it will align with Abbott’s latest executive order on Friday, adding no one from the Governor’s office has reached out to him in the past 24 hours. This means restaurants can continue to operate with patio dine-in service until Thursday night, according to Newton.
NBC 5 reached out to Governor Abbott’s office on Tuesday for clarification on whether his orders superseding local orders would take effect Friday, or at the time of his announcement Monday afternoon. We have not heard back.
Ted Price, franchise owner of Costa Vida Fresh Mexican Grill in Colleyville, has been operating with curbside service and recently opened their patio seating area. However, they do not plan to reopen at 25 percent starting Friday.
“At the end of the day, to allow 30 people in at a time with just a few tables spread out and not allowing them to go through the counter service, I think it would be more frustrating for them and make it harder for us to deliver the amount of food we are delivering now picking up curbside,” Price explained.
On the first day they were allowed to offer patio service, Price admits it was difficult at times to get people to stay at a distance.
“They did it. We just had to remind people a lot. We adjusted our line to help it make it easier for them to spread out,” he said. “We’re trying to get [floor markers] printed today to put on the ground. We had cones spread out by six feet. We’re trying to come up with better things but getting them created and ordered and printed, it takes time to figure these things out. We’re doing our best.”
Under the executive orders announced by Abbott this week, businesses are not required to reopen Friday. Vinny Taneja, public health director for Tarrant County, said businesses that choose to do so need to make “smart decisions”.
Taneja said this includes, but is not limited to, the usage of masks and abiding to capacity limits.
“Those things allow us to reopen with a very guarded, very cautious approach. We need to be very careful with monitoring the data. If data starts to uptick and trend up, we reevaluate. If it stays flat or keeps coming down, then okay make further progress,” he said.
In his weekly briefing before the Tarrant County Commissioners Court Tuesday, Taneja said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is trending flat.
“What the federal plan was asking for us to be doing, is they should be consistently going down over the last two weeks. We’re flattening out, we’re not going down,” Taneja said, referring to the federal guidance on reopening.
The number of confirmed cases requiring hospitalization in Tarrant County has “trended up a little over the last couple of weeks, but it’s not an earthshattering number”, according to Taneja. As of Tuesday, he said 47 percent of hospital beds in Tarrant County are unoccupied due to social distancing measures in place.
Of the occupied beds, about six percent are COVID-19 patients.
When asked whether the data suggest Tarrant County is ready to reopen Friday with restrictions in place, Taneja answered, “the data is not all aligning up with what the federal plan was. I mean, that’s clear from the briefing but that’s just one input. You’ve got to balance out what the business community is wanting, what the public is wanting. I don’t envy the position that Governor and our elected leaders are in. But that data is just part of the puzzle that they’re having to look at.”
If data suggests no flare-up of cases over two weeks starting Friday, Abbott said the reopening of businesses could move into phase II which sets capacity at 50 percent.
Establishments like gyms and salons will ‘hopefully’ be opened by mid-May, Abbott said.