FORT WORTH, Texas - Tarrant County officials Tuesday said they would allow its stay-at-home order to expire April 30.
But health officials in the county said the plan to start reopening businesses on Friday across the state does not align with data coming out of the county. Stores and restaurants can have customers inside not to exceed 25 percent of the businesses’ capacity.
Tarrant County's 2,088 cases and 58 deaths are the third-highest totals in the state, behind only Harris and Dallas counties.
“If you’re going to be out, wear a mask to save lives. It’s not a requirement, but it’s a strong recommendation,” said Dr. Vinny Taneja, Tarrant County health director.
Taneja urged patrons as well as waiters, clerks and other store workers to take personal precautions.
“The data is not all a lining up to what the federal plan was and that’s clear from the briefing. But that’s just one input right? You have to balance out with what the business community is wanting, what the public is wanting. So I don’t envy the position that the governor and our elected leaders are in to make that hard decision,” Taneja said.
RELATED: Coronavirus coverage
Commissioner Roy Brooks does not agree with reopening and reiterated his position during the meeting.
“The stats tell me it is not yet time to let up,” Brooks said. “As for me and my house, we intend to stay at
But Judge Glen Whitley says Tarrant County will follow Governor Abbott’s lead and allow its stay at home order to expire Thursday and non-essential businesses to partially re-open on Friday. He offered the strongest argument for reopening the economy in Tarrant County -- the number of available hospital beds is in good shape.
“As we begin to re-open, the thing we want to watch is what is our hospital population. The governor in recent orders he issued yesterday said we need to maintain a 15 percent availability with anticipation of COVED-19 as well as emergency care. We are over 50 percent or right at 50 percent this morning, so we’ve got plenty,” Whitley said.
The cities of Arlington and Colleyville also amended their local orders to line up with the governor’s.
Colleyville Mayor Richard Newton drew both criticism and praise last week after allowing salons and gyms to partially re-open with one-on-one appointments and restaurants to seat customers on their patios.
“It’s a very methodical, data-driven approach to open up businesses,” he said. “And it’s completely in line with what we’ve been trying to do.”
But salons and gyms are not included in phase one of the governor's reopening plan.
“So the flexibility that we had in the current order is not in the new order the way it’s been written,” the mayor said.
It means salons that Colleyville allowed to partially reopen have to close again.
Sydney Fibranc, owner and stylist of The Platinum Loft Salon in Colleyville, says that excitement was short-lived. An email from the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation says that all cosmetology salons will remain closed until Abbott’s executive order is amended or rescinded.
I’ve spoken with TDLR a couple of times, and they said absolutely you still could be fined. You need to follow the state’s orders. Not your city’s,” Fibranc said. “And they are the ones that could take our license and be fining us, so I’m just going to follow that.”
The city of Fort Worth will hold a special meeting to discuss its own stay at home order, which will need to align with the governor’s order.