Dave Moore, Staff Writer
Judges from Collin, Dallas, Denton, and Tarrant county commissioner courts have issued orders meant to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) that’s sweeping the region and the world. Dallas, Denton, and Tarrant counties are ordering near-complete shutdowns of a host of non-essential activities. Collin, meanwhile, is relying on individuals and business professionals to maintain safe distances to keep nearly all businesses operating. In all cases, orders apply to individuals based on their county of residence.
On March 24, Collin County Judge Chris Hill issued an executive order to safeguard the public from COVID-19, emphasizing public responsibility – maintaining six feet of separation – to curb its spread.
The order declares all businesses, jobs, and workers as essential to the financial health and well-being of the county. Entertainment activities are not considered essential. It orders vulnerable populations and those infected to stay home.
“Persons shall avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts, or visiting gyms or massage parlors,” the order states, referencing Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s March 19 executive order. The order highly encourages the use of drive-through, pickup, and delivery for bars, restaurants, and food courts.
Judge Clay Jenkins was among the first county leaders in North Texas to issue a broad stay-at-home order for county residents.
“Some folks might say this is an overaction,” Jenkins said at a press conference. “I know many business owners who will say this, but I haven’t found a doctor who will say this. They are pretty clear on what we should do.”
Under the order, residents should only leave home for essential activities, such as a doctor’s appointment or grocery shopping. In effort to help control the spread of the coronavirus, only those who provide essential services are permitted to continue to work outside the home.
Effective at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, March 25, an executive order by Judge Andy Eads closely matches Dallas County’s stay-at-home order, which was issued March 22, with minor amendments. Like the Dallas County order, Eads’ order allows outdoor activity (running, biking, hiking, etc.), as long as individuals comply with the CDC’s six-feet distancing protocol. While Dallas County’s order doesn’t mention the sellers and servicers of recreational vehicles as essential, Denton County’s order does.
On Tuesday, March 24, Judge Glen Whitley signed an amended executive order that also, to some degree, mirrors Dallas County’s stay-at-home order, in terms of defining essential service providers. The order also takes aim at those who attempt to profit as a result of the pandemic.
“…No person shall sell any of the following goods or services for more than the price the person charged for the goods or services on March 16, 2020, and continuing during the pendency of this Executive Order (on) groceries, beverages, toilet articles, ice … restaurant, cafeteria, and boarding-house meals; and … medicine, pharmaceutical and medical equipment, and supplies,” the order states.