North Texas Businesses Revisit COVID-19 Protocols as Cases Rise, Delta Variant Spreads

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With a rise in COVID-19 cases in Texas and the spread of the delta variant, some North Texas business owners are revisiting their eased COVID-19 protocols.

Salon Purple in Fort Worth, owned by Terry Whiddon, has been reopened for more than a year. Whiddon said business overall is booming and surpassing sales from this time last year by around 35%. Their team of eight has been staying busy tending to their growing list of clients and taking care of the salon itself, he said.

“We no longer sanitize our chairs and bowls. We just disinfect every usage, so we get a deeper clean,” he explained. “Some of the teammates currently wear [masks] all day, every day.”

With a new school year in Fort Worth approaching combined with a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, Whiddon said they do anticipate bringing back masks inside their salon. His team will ‘lead the charge’ by wearing them again first before encouraging clients to do the same, Whiddon said.

“They’re [team] pushing for it because we all have elderly parents at home. Some are pregnant or have small children at home, grandkids come by. I don’t want to live in fear, but I don’t want to play with live wire either,” he said. “Even if you have been vaccinated, it’s still respectful. I’m not going to put the sign on my door, 'if you’ve been vaccinated, you’re mask-free' because then it’s like you’re judging people. In a hair salon, there should be no judgment. It’s all about beauty and happiness.”

According to the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council, there are 1,489 COVID-19 patients being treated at hospitals in Trauma Service Area E as of Friday. Stephen Love, president of the council, noted there was an increase in the number of patients just one day ago. Tarrant County currently has the most amount of hospitalized COVID-19 patients with 557 as of Friday.

This week, a new executive order issued by Texas governor Greg Abbott related to the coronavirus pandemic bars local governments from limiting capacity at businesses or requiring facial coverings. Decisions such as those are entirely up to individual businesses, a spokesperson for Gov. Abbott clarified Friday.

Ann Shaw, co-owner of Shaw’s Patio Bar and Grill in Fort Worth, said they encourage all of their employees to get vaccinated in hopes of combating the virus spread. At this time, Shaw said they do not plan to enforce mask-wearing again.

“I can’t do it. I mean, the employees can’t do it. It is really hard in a restaurant to wait tables, to bartend, taking an order over the phone…I mean, it’s hard with a mask,” Shaw told NBC 5 Friday. “They’re hot. I’ve had a couple of employees that literally almost passed out because it was hot. We were on the patio and I’m not going to do it to them again. They don’t want it, and I don’t want it.”

Shaw added, all of their sanitizing efforts to keep the restaurant safe and clean will remain in place. Over the past year, they have added sanitizing stations to various locations within their Magnolia Avenue restaurant.

“It’s not anybody’s fault. This has happened, and we’re trying to deal with it,” she said. “I pray every night that we get a good handle on it and that people make good decisions.”

Both Whiddon and Shaw say they are asking customers to respect decisions made by businesses like theirs regarding protocols.

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