The North Central Texas Council of Governments shared their plan Thursday on how to safely reopen businesses across the Metroplex. The plan divides businesses into five different priority groups based on exposure. See the plan at the bottom of this article.
Multiple dates on the calendar are causing confusion for some Dallas residents and businesses about when and how they may reopen.
Most North Texas stay-at-home orders expire at the end of April, but Tuesday Dallas County extended its safer-at-home order until May 15. And Wednesday, the city of Dallas extended a disaster declaration through May 12 to coincide with the state's disaster declaration.
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Separate from the stay-at-home order, the city’s disaster orders were made similar to Dallas County’s.
“Now what has to happen is going to be any extension of ‘Stay at Home’ orders beyond the date in last order,” Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said.
On top of the differing dates, there are differing rules for businesses.
Grocery stores and other essential businesses are open. Hair salons, barber shops and many other non-essential businesses are closed. Friday, some retailers will be allowed to reopen with “to go” curbside pickup.
In addition to the threat of illness, the whole situation has created enormous stress on people.
“What I’ve been hearing from hospitals, as much as the issues with COVID, is the need for mental health assistance,” Dallas City Council member Adam McGough said.
Wednesday, the Dallas City Council approved nearly $20 million in support for coronavirus relief.
“We're calling this 'Putting Our People First,' Dallas' economic recovery package,” councilman Casey Thomas said.
The money will provide rent and mortgage payments for people who’ve lost jobs and support small business in disadvantaged neighborhoods.
All of the dates on the calendar and business regulations are subject to change by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. He could extend the stay-at-home orders or allow more business to reopen.
Johnson said he has been in regular contact with Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins and the governor.
“There’s some politics going on in terms of how people are talking about this, but I think everyone wants to get back to normal. We’re just going to make sure here in Dallas, we recommend what’s safe for them to do,” Johnson said.
Among other health experts, Johnson said he is listening to Dallas County Health Director Philip Huang.
On NBC 5 Today Thursday, Huang said he would watch to see if more stores reopening with expanded “retail to go” increases the number of coronavirus cases.
“We want to work with the workers who are going to be doing those drive through services, make sure they're doing their personal protection as well as protecting the customers coming out,” Huang said.
New safety procedures could be required for other businesses as they reopen, such as offices where there is little public contact.
A Dallas City Council Committee Thursday heard details on those additional procedures.
For people of the Islamic faith, the holy month of Ramadan is just beginning.
Thursday, Jenkins said the current order from Abbott changes the wording for religious services to “should not,” instead of “may not,” be held.
Jenkins said he has spoken with Islamic imams and other Dallas County religious leaders who’ve told him they do not intend to hold services this weekend.
Jenkins asked Dallas County residents to follow guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The CDC guideline for places like us with significant community spread has not changed. It says don't do it,” Jenkins said.
Dallas city and county leaders expect to hear more from Abbott about the other orders for Texas in the next few days.