What to Know About Dallas Businesses Reopening
Stay safe out there.
Venture into just about any business or public space these days and it might be hard to tell much difference between the pre-COVID-19 world and the current pandemic state. Cases and hospitalizations are on the rise, the governor has begun scolding 20-somethings for not taking the threat seriously, and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is warning bars to adhere to stricter enforcement of safety guidelines or risk losing their liquor license for a minimum of 30 days. Some experts are warning that current behaviors could lead to not only a spike in cases this fall, but a potentially more restrictive lockdown than the first one. If you have been following the color-coded health risk guidelines issued by Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, you’ll notice that we are still in the red High Community Risk for COVID-19 Transmission Risk category, the worst of four. Even once we get to the green New Normal Community Risk for COVID 19, it will hardly be a life-as-we-remember it reality. Yet many citizens are pretending we’re already there.
The ever-changing guidelines, disputes between local, state, and national government officials on how to safely reopen, and the evolving science of how the virus spreads all add up to a big, confusing mess. Some people have chosen to completely disregard any warnings whatsoever, putting themselves and others at unnecessary risk, while others may be violating the state’s orders due to lack of knowledge. So to clear up any doubts, here’s the latest update on what’s open and the real guidelines that have been put in place so that you can navigate the new Dallas in the safest way possible.
Under current orders, all restaurants can currently increase their dining rooms to 75% listed occupancy and patios at full capacity with tables configured to ensure a minimum of six feet between parties of no more than six people. Menus must be disposable and condiments must be provided in single-use portions. Diners can enjoy their favorite dishes once again in-person at Miriam Cocina Latina, Lockhart Smokehouse, il Bracco, Toller Patio, and Malibu Poke, which have all reopened dining rooms and/or patios. Meanwhile, dozens of eateries including LOCAL and Asian Mint have opted to continue only takeout and delivery for the time being. And sadly, dozens more have permanently shuttered as a direct result of the initial shutdown.
As of Wednesday, June 3, bars have permission to increase to 50% capacity as long as all patrons are seated. Several bars kicked things off as soon as they could, including Lee Harvey’s and Kung Fu Saloon, which opened right at midnight when the 25% capacity guidelines were issued. Others now open include Parliament, Brizo, Happiest Hour, and Lakewood Landing. TABC will be out in force checking to make sure bars follow the current guidelines. Meanwhile, a wait-and-see approach delayed the opening of popular bars in the LGBT entertainment district (Sue Ellen’s, JR’s Bar & Grill, TMC, Dallas Woody’s, and Round-Up Saloon), while Station 4 and Alexandre’s remain closed.
Under the governor’s orders, movie theaters may also be open at 50% capacity with two seats between parties and every other row vacant, yet no theater in Dallas has opted to do so. One of the reasons is lack of product as movie studios have pushed many major summer releases to later in the summer, fall, and even into 2021 and beyond. One of the first theaters to reopen in North Texas is Strike + Reel, which is attracting visitors with $4 tickets to recent releases and all-time classics. However, patrons can support other smaller operations such as Alamo Drafthouse, The Texas Theatre, and Angelika Film Center, as well as large chain AMC via online screenings of their movies. And Studio Movie Grill is giving customers something to look forward to with two free movie tickets to use when the theaters reopen with every to-go order. Meanwhile, business booms for the Galaxy Drive-in in Ennis with a few modifications, such as single versus double features, everyone must stay inside their vehicles, and for now guests can bring in their own food and drink while the concession stand remains closed.
According to the latest from the Governor’s office, professional basketball, baseball, car racing, football, golf, softball, and tennis leagues may apply to the Department of State Health Services for approval to hold professional sporting events in Texas. Spectators may now attend both indoor and outdoor games at 50% of regular seating capacity or 50% of normal operating limits.
Museums and libraries
The Texas government now allows for both museums and libraries to operate at 50% capacity. For now, no Dallas museums or libraries have chosen to reopen. The Dallas Museum of Art, Nasher Sculpture Center, Perot Museum of Nature and Science, the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum, and Crow Museum of Asian Art remain temporarily closed, but all are offering some sort of virtual option online.
Popular outdoor gathering places Klyde Warren Park and White Rock Lake Park are open again, though some services such as children’s play areas continue to be closed. Hiking, biking, and walking trails, including those at the Great Trinity Forest, can currently be accessed, too. The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden and the Dallas Zoo have also reopened to the general public after staying closed longer than some other venues.
Everyone can get off the sofa and into a gym, all of which are operating at some 50% capacity and increasing their cleaning and disinfecting protocol. VIVE Fitness, Journey Fit, both Equinox locations and Lifetime Fitness are among dozens of other brands that have all reopened with social distancing in place for showers, steam rooms, saunas, and lockers. Meanwhile, 24 Hour Fitness has closed 11 locations in North Texas after filing for bankruptcy.
Sports and recreation
Non-contact sports can now take place outdoors, but can include no more than 10 participants. Golf, driving ranges, and tennis centers have reopened throughout the city, as well as bowling alleys and skating rinks, including all Pinstack locations, while venues including Dallas-based Topgolf and all city-run public pools remain closed.
Providers at nail salons, barber shops, cosmetology, and hair salons can operate with a minimum six-foot distance between stations. Tanning salons and massage providers may also reopen with thorough cleaning protocols in place between customers.
Those in desperate need of retail therapy can return to non-essential stores, which have reopened at 50% of total listed occupancy, as well as offering pickup and delivery services to customers. Shopping malls may operate at 50% capacity, too, with food court dining areas now open with social distancing between tables and a designated employee cleaning and enforcing the guidelines.
Amusement parks have been given the greenlight to reopen at 50% capacity. Six Flags Over Texas will reopen Friday, June 19 for season pass holders and Monday, June 22 for the general public. Water parks fall under the same guidelines and Six Flags Hurricane Harbor will reopen Thursday, June 18 to season pass holders and Monday, June 22 for everyone else. Many smaller water parks have already begun their reopening process with several more coming back this weekend.
Fine arts performance halls
For anyone missing a cultural experience that isn’t confined to Netflix or live Zoom performances, there’s good news. Arts venues may reopen at 50% capacity now, but all area performance groups are still assessing the best ways to reopen, from the Dallas Symphony to the various companies that perform at the AT&T Performing Arts Center venues.
July 4 celebrations and other large gatherings of more than 500 people may operante with social distancing of six feet between families and groups of 10 or fewer in place. County judges and mayors may determine if such events cannot take place, however, based on the state of COVID-19 in their jurisdictions. While most fireworks spectacles have been canceled, Kaboom Town in Addison will have a fireworks-only show on July 3 this year instead of the large carnival-type production of the past. Plano, Little Elm, and Grapevine are among the other suburbs that will still have some sort of fireworks display for their communities.
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