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Colleyville defies state orders and reopens restaurants and churches

Colleyville defies state orders and reopens restaurants and churches

Houston, Burger Joint, April 2016, patio
Here's a patio with hella social distancing. Photo by Becca Wright

Defying a lockdown across Texas as well as the most basic common sense, the town of Colleyville is going to allow churches, restaurants, and other businesses to reopen with certain limitations, despite an unresolved ending to the coronavirus pandemic.

On April 20, Colleyville Mayor Richard Newton issued a proclamation that allows:

  • resumption of religious services, provided that physical distancing applies
  • restaurants to serve diners, although on their patios only
  • retail stores to host in-store appointments, in addition to pickup and delivery
  • gyms, beauty salons, massage parlors, and other "hands-on" business to do one-on-one services

Fitness classes are also allowed, as long as there are 10 students or less and they're observing physical distancing.

Also, groups of 10 or less are no longer restricted to family members. Reunion with your friends, Colleyvill-ites.

Religious services are no longer prohibited "provided that physical distancing applies and such services should, whenever possible, be conducted via remote audio, video, or teleconference means."

The town is also allowing elective surgery and other non-necessary medical procedures.

"While safety remains our top priority, we also recognize the need to re-open our city," a statement from the city said. "We are taking the first steps in that process in a methodical and safe way."

On March 19, Gov. Greg Abbott declared a public health disaster in the state of Texas, imposing statewide closures of restaurants, bars, schools, gyms, nursing homes, and retirement centers, in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19.

One month later, on April 17, Abbott announced plans to reopen Texas in stages, beginning with state parks, then retail stores for pickup and delivery only. Texas still does not allow unlimited contact between those not in the same family.

As his rationale, Gov. Abbott stated that "we're seeing glimmers that the worst of COVID-19 may soon be behind us."

Healthcare professionals say that widespread testing is the best way to identify and isolate those who have the virus, and help contain the spread. However, availability of COVID-19 tests is sorely lacking; Texas comes in second-to-last, ranked at no. 49 in the United States in terms of tests per capita.

On April 20, the head of World Health Organization warned that "the worst is yet ahead of us" in the coronavirus outbreak and called for global solidarity in fighting what he called Enemy No. 1. "It's a virus that people still don't understand," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

As of April 19, Colleyville had 17 cases of coronavirus, as reported by the Tarrant County Health Department.

Abbott said in a press conference on April 21 that Colleyville Mayor Newton's new order seemed to follow Texas's restrictions, but that his staff "will just talk to him" to confirm.

The new changes go into effect on April 24.