Many local North Texas businesses have chosen not to reopen to the public

By Cami Ferrell

After Texas Governor Greg Abbott relaxed statewide regulations, retailers like malls, movie theaters, and restaurants can open back up to the public on Friday, but some North Texas businesses are hesitant to reopen.

One of those businesses is The Bearded Monk in Denton. Owner, Ben Esely, opened the bar in 2015 as Denton's first craft beer only, bottle shop and growler fill bar. His business had the opportunity to reopen this week because they also operate a storefront. But, the possibility left him with one question for his staff…

"Does this seem too soon to anyone else?" Esely said that the coronavirus has impacted his business drastically. He has seen a significant decrease in purchase volume, and overall amount of customers. Despite this, Esely decided not to open back up to the public. He said he wanted to prevent his staff, and his customers from getting sick. "All I know is, it doesn't feel right, right now," he said.

Esely will continue offering pick up and delivery for his customers. Many other local businesses in North Texas have decided to stay closed, but some businesses like Seven Mile Cafe and The Dive, have decided to allow people to dine in on Friday. Businesses that choose to open must follow protocols from state and local officials. Retailers cannot exceed 25% capacity, and cannot use any interactive displays. Employees must be screened daily. If employees are exposed to the virus they must be quarantined for at least two weeks. Masks and social distancing are encouraged when possible. Abbott will allow people to refuse to return to work for valid reasons and still collect unemployment. Valid reasons were set by Texas Workforce Commission and include: ● Being 65 or older and considered high risk ● Living with a household member that is high risk ● Testing positive for COVID and not yet recovered ● Living with someone that has tested positive, and the 14 day period has not passed ● Exposure to the virus, resulting in quarantine ● No availability of childcare The CDC asked states to observe a two week decrease in coronavirus cases before governors reopened their economies. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said this has not been observed. Dallas County had its deadliest day on Tuesday with 10 coronavirus related deaths, and 135 new cases, while Thursday saw a new single day high of infections in Dallas with 179 new cases. Texas is the second largest state in the US, and is ranked 49 in testing from a study by the Coronavirus Tracking Project. This same project said that less than 1% of Texans have been tested for the virus. UNT Director of Economics Research, Michael Carroll, said this phase may disproportionately affect local businesses because they may not have the funding to profit at 25% capacity. But, he said reopening the economy has to "start somewhere." The national economy shrank by 4.8% in the first quarter, but Carroll said the second quarter could be worse.

"I think when we do come out of this, it will be much slower, certainly than what people would hope," he said. "I’m sure they’re hoping with the governor opening some things up Friday, that things are going to be back to normal by the middle of the week. That’s certainly not the case.” Abbott will not extend the statewide stay at home order into May, despite advice from experts at the CDC.If this first phase of openings is considered successful, Abbott plans to begin a second phase on May 18 to reopen gyms, salons, and bars.