Dallas was at the forefront of the “safer at home” order. It was one of the first counties to adopt this mandate in March and remains in effect until at least April 30th. Businesses have been bearing the brunt of this mandate which was put in place to stymie the spread of the novel Coronavirus. The disaster declaration which was put into place by the Dallas County Commission is currently good until May 20th. And safer at home regulations may be re-evaluated on April 30th.
There are a lot of people pushing to ease the safer at home restrictions which have shuttered thousands of Dallas/Fort Worth area businesses. Any business that has been deemed non-essential will face penalties, fines, and their owners may even face arrest if they remain in operation during this safer at home mandate.
Businesses (especially small businesses) are hemorrhaging money every day they cannot open their doors. The business community has been the most vociferous in the rally to ease the safer at home restrictions and re-open Texas.
But the push to reopen business has been met with much resistance. As COVID-19 proliferates and most medical models forecast a surge in cases in late April and early May, medical professionals and committees are urging that the safer at home restrictions be extended until May 20th – and perhaps, for good reason. Dallas County is second only to Harris County in the amount of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
It is no secret that reopening Texas has been a very sensitive subject with valid arguments on both sides. Does the state government allow small businesses to flounder and fail under the safer at home restrictions? Does it save small businesses at the risk of an explosion of new COVID-19 cases and deaths? It basically comes down to a roll of the dice no matter what is decided, and we want to help you stay informed here at DFW Biz Pros.
We make it our duty to keep you in the loop as a Dallas/Fort Worth business owner. The novel Coronavirus has shaken the business community and owners are waiting with bated breath to hear when they can reopen their doors. And as the April 30th expiration date of the initial safer at home order looms, you are probably wondering what this means for your business. In today’s post, we will be covering the essentials of the plan to reopen Texas and the impact it could have on your business.
First, you should know the latest news on what is going on with the safer at home restrictions. It was announced this week that Governor Greg Abbott would allow the current safer at home mandate to expire on Friday, May 1st. The original stay at home restrictions were put in place on March 13th. This initial reopening of certain businesses is the first phase in the plan to completely reopen Texas.
The plan for Friday is to let movie theaters, malls, museums, retail stores, and restaurants reopen. But there is a catch. All of these types of establishments will only be allowed to operate at a quarter of their regular capacity.
This plan to reopen certain businesses in a limited capacity has been set forth in part to ease the economic burden that has been felt by the majority of Texans. Thousands of Dallas businesses were forced to shut down due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Millions of “non-essential” workers have been placed on furlough or laid off. Swaths of Texans have been forced to file for unemployment – which has come with its own set of complications.
And while the decree that some businesses will be allowed to open up again comes as welcome news for many businesses, it is important to take note of some important caveats of this mandate:
Allowed but not Required
No matter how much of an economic impact this is all having on the state, there are some business owners who may want to choose to play it safe. The first important nuance of note in the upcoming, limited reopening of Texas is that not all of these kinds of businesses have to reopen. The Governor is simply allowing these businesses to open their doors again if they choose to. This means that they cannot be fined or arrested for operating within the allotted guidelines. It also means that you will not be fined or arrested if you choose to keep your business closed after Friday, May 1st.
This is Just a Test
Secondly, be aware that just because certain businesses will be allowed to resume operations on May 1st, this is just a trial phase. On May 18th – after 2 weeks of COVID-19 data becomes available – the state will reconvene and review their decision. This reconsideration could result in two outcomes. One, the Governor may see that the number of new COVID-19 cases has remained limited since the May 1st reopening. In this case, it is likely that more businesses will be allowed to reopen. Or two, the data could show that reopening business has caused the virus to proliferate. If that is the case, it remains to be seen what the Governor will decide, but it seems likely that further stay at home restrictions will be levied on Dallas businesses.
The Plan Supersedes Local Laws
There has been a lot of push and pull between the state legislature and local law. It has been confusing since Abbott has been in direct conflict with politicians at the mayoral level over the stay at home restrictions. But as a business owner, you have to know your rights. One of the most important things to understand about this initial phase in the plan to reopen Texas is that the Governor’s decree supersedes local government. This means that no matter what county you operate in, you cannot be penalized if you within the confines of Friday’s easing of the safer at home restrictions (only certain businesses are allowed to reopen at 25% capacity).
Friday will mark the launching of a hopeful plan for the reopening of Texas. There are many things yet to be seen but the plan will have an immediate impact on the business community.
What this Means for your Business
Texas reopening has deep implications for business owners of all kinds. Here are some of the most important factors to consider for your business:
Schools will Remain Closed
Even if your business is of the kind that will be allowed to reopen on May 1st, you should know that the rest of the academic school year has been officially canceled for Dallas County. Parents going back to work may have to hire a baby-sitter as day-care centers will also remain closed until further notice.
Masks may Still be a Requirement
Earlier in the month, it was announced that people who were not wearing a face covering of some kind were subject to fines of up 10 $1,000. And while the fines have been relaxed since then, masks may still be a requirement for businesses that are reopening on May 1st. This could mean that you and your staff may be required to wear face masks of some kind and that you may need to require that your patrons wear masks as well.
Bars and Gyms are to Remain Closed
If you own a bar, gym, hair salon, or barbershop, you won’t be able to go back to work on May 1st. The reasoning for opening some businesses as opposed to others remains unclear.
You Could go Back to Work in Mid-May – The Governor will reconvene with his committee on May 18th which could result in more businesses being allowed to open up again. Still, this too will be a limited opening. If all goes well, certain businesses will be able to open again but just at 50% capacity.
Choose your Services Wisely
The fact that business operations will be limited starting in May means that business owners will have to trim their service options. This includes selecting a smaller staff, suspending certain services, and limiting available goods.
The Choice is Yours – Again, remember that just because you can open your doors again, you don’t have to. If you are doing fine during this business shutdown or are tending to a sick loved one, you may still want to keep your doors shut and see how everything shakes out.
Business will be Limited
Be aware that your patrons may still be skeptical and apprehensive about going out and using your goods or services. 25% capacity may end up being more like 15% if people are wary about contracting COVID-19
No matter what your situation is in light of this initial phase of Texas reopening, it is important to stay safe and positive. If you have any questions or need resources to help you through this time, we would be happy to help. Contact us here at DFW Biz Pros today.