Counties Offer Mixed Messages With COVID-19 Gathering Restrictions

North Texas counties need uniform response, not hodgepodge of regulations, judge says

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When it comes to restrictions on gatherings and business closures, every city and county is doing something different.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said that’s a problem and if we are to slow the spread of COVID-19 then every local government needs to be on the same page.

Tuesday marked Dallas’ new normal -- for now -- where normally packed parking lots were empty outside closed gyms and movie theaters.

Inside of restaurants, chairs were stacked on tables after both the city and county of Dallas ordered dining areas be closed to customers with only delivery and take-out service allowed.

At Dallas’ NorthPark Center, a handful of customers were seen walking inside. While malls are allowed to remain open, some retailers are making the decision to close on their own.

While some people are making adjustments, the same is not happening in other parts of the region where businesses like gyms, movie theaters and restaurants are allowed to remain open.

“If one city is not doing it and people are just coming from there to here, it’s not really going to do much. So yeah, uniform policies would probably be helpful,” said Julia Nolan, who left her home briefly to pick up a few items at a pharmacy.

The city and county of Dallas has imposed the strictest measures, placing limits on gatherings of 50 or more people and closing businesses like bars, gyms and movie theaters.

Yet, in Fort Worth the city has not enforced any closures, just placed 50% occupancy restrictions on some businesses.

In Collin County, neighboring cities like McKinney and Allen are each doing something different when it comes to limiting the gathering of people and Denton County ordered its own restrictions on the gathering of people Tuesday afternoon.

“We can not have hodgepodge enforcement,” said Jenkins, who called on Gov. Greg Abbott Tuesday morning to push for uniform policies, or at the least the surrounding local governments, even those without a confirmed case, to enforce the same directives his county is now enforcing at the suggestion of the White House.

He said if North Texas wants to slow the community spread of coronavirus, then a region of 7.6 million people needs to get on the same page when it comes to what’s open and closed.

“This is too widespread,” said Jenkins. “We need our neighbors to help us and help ourselves.”

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