Capacity restrictions loosened for North Texas businesses with drop in COVID-19 hospitalizations

coronavirus image next to headline reading Today's coronavirus data updates
Per an October executive order by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, North Texas business restrictions are seeing loosened restrictions following seven consecutive days of COVID-19 patients occupying less than 15% of area hospital beds. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

Per an October executive order by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, North Texas business restrictions are seeing loosened restrictions following seven consecutive days of COVID-19 patients occupying less than 15% of area hospital beds. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

The state has loosened capacity restrictions for North Texas businesses following a decline in hospitalization rates for COVID-19 patients.

The Texas Department of State Health Services sent letters to 19 county judges in North Texas on Feb. 17 informing them of the lifted restrictions, according to DSHS spokesperson Lara Anton. “[Trauma Service Area E] no longer meets the definition of a high hospitalization area and so [it] may reopen to the higher levels allowable under GA-32,” the letter stated.

Per GA-32, an executive order issued by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in October, municipal governments are required to tighten capacity restrictions for most businesses if COVID-19 patients occupy 15% or more of the available hospital beds for seven consecutive days in their specific Trauma Service Area. North Texas is part of Trauma Service E, which consists of 19 counties.

On Dec. 3, when Trauma Service Area E passed the 15% threshold for seven consecutive days, restaurants and most businesses were required to reduce capacity from 75% to 50%, and bars were required to close. Per Abbott’s order, businesses are allowed to increase capacity once COVID-19 hospitalizations for the area are below 15% for seven days in a row.

Data reported for Feb. 9-15 showed that threshold was met, allowing bars to reopen and many businesses to return to 75% capacity.

Tony Felker, CEO and president of the Frisco Chamber of Commerce, said the increase in dining and commerce will improve the health of the local economy.


“We're very glad now to see that [hospitalization] rate drop,” Felker said, adding that more diners and shoppers out and about will mean more “sales revenue and more people at work or dollars in the economy.”

Felker said the loosened restrictions will not change the daily operations and capacity of some Frisco businesses, though, because of continued safety practices.

“We actually found that many [Frisco businesses] were not operating at—or even near—75% [capacity] because of the social distance restrictions,” Felker said. “More of them are implementing Plexiglas partitions and other mechanisms to increase capacity but still keep their customers.”

Justin Bramblett, general manager of Kelly's Craft Tavern in Frisco, said the increased capacity will enable him to hire more employees. In preparation for this, Kelly’s has also added more outdoor seating.

“We're looking forward to March, once the weather heats up,” Bramblett said. “We've invested in that [outdoor seating] portion of our establishment. We have [also] been hiring up the last couple months ... and we will keep on hiring as soon as the weather heats up more.”

Capacity levels go into effect immediately, but many businesses have remained this week closed due to the winter weather.

Although capacity restrictions are loosening in North Texas, COVID-19 hospitalizations still remain high in some parts of the region. COVID-19 patients still occupy more than or nearly 15% of hospital beds in Collin, Denton and Tarrant counties as of Feb. 15. Dallas County’s COVID-19 patients account for 12.9% of county hospital beds, according to Feb. 15 data.

By Francesca D' Annunzio
Francesca D'Annunzio covers K-12 and higher education, development, planning and zoning, and transportation in Frisco and McKinney. She attended college at the University of Texas at Austin, where she reported for the Daily Texan and interned for the Austin Chronicle. When she's not reporting, she enjoys spending time outdoors and experimenting in the kitchen.


MOST RECENT

digital rendering of virus
Collin County Judge Chris Hill rescinds COVID-19 disaster declaration

Collin County’s declaration of local disaster in response to COVID-19 was rescinded Feb. 26 by Judge Chris Hill.

At its peak of power loss, the city had roughly 50,000 homes with interrupted power, many of which had prolonged outages, Plano City Manager Mark Israelson said. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
Plano faces long-term impacts from storm; Collin County vaccine hubs resume service and more DFW-area news

Read the top business and community news from this week from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Snow covers I-45 in Houston during a winter storm that hit Texas the night of Feb. 14. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
Legislators probe energy officials over power failures, lack of preparation heading into winter storm

The Texas Legislature held hearings Feb. 25 with energy companies including Oncor Electric Delivery and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas in response to last week’s historic winter storm, which left millions of Texans without electricity for days.

Justice permanently closed its Frisco location inside Stonebriar Centre in December. (File photo)
Justice clothing store permanently closes Stonebriar Centre location

Justice, a clothing and accessories store that offered merchandise for young girls and tweens, permanently closed its location at 2601 Preston Road, Ste. 1240, Frisco, in December.

IHOP is expected to open early this summer at the intersection of FM 423 and US 380. (Courtesy IHOP)
IHOP coming to northwest Frisco this summer

IHOP will open a new location early this summer at 1375 US 380, Frisco.

The North Texas Municipal Water District has lifted its request for its member cities to reduce water use. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Collin County water supplier lifts water conservation request

With water demands returning to normal levels, the North Texas Municipal Water District has lifted its request to reduce nonessential water use within its service area, which includes the cities of Frisco, McKinney, Plano and Richardson.

The coffee and wine bar offers signature drinks, such as the Honey Bear Latte, made with honey and cinnamon, as well as food options, such as breakfast tacos, charcuterie boards, baked goods and snack boxes. (Courtesy Golden Boy Coffee Co.)
Golden Boy Coffee Co. opens in Plano; Black Rock Coffee Bar coming to Southlake and more DFW-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

As many as 31 stores across nine states will be shuttered as Fry's Electronics shuts down due to market changes and the pandemic. (Courtesy Qygen, Wikimedia Commons)
Fry's Electronics calls it quits after nearly 36 years in business

As many as 31 stores across nine states will be shuttered as Fry's Electronics shuts down due to market changes and the pandemic.

A lone runner jogs on a snow-covered road in Austin. Transportation projects across the city were briefly paused due to Winter Storm Uri. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
ERCOT: Texas power system was less than 5 minutes from collapse during winter storm

ERCOT's CEO offered details into what led to the massive blackouts that left millions of Texans in the cold last week.

House Sprucing Design & Decor will open in west Frisco in mid-March. (Courtesy House Sprucing Design & Decor)
House Sprucing Design & Decor coming to Frisco

House Sprucing Design & Decor, a North Texas-based interior design company, is set to open in Frisco.

uBreakiFix opened its 600th U.S. location on Preston Road in Frisco in November. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
uBreakiFix new Frisco location now open

uBreakiFix opened its 600th U.S. location in Frisco at 3333 Preston Road, Ste. 106, in mid-November.

Didi's Downtown at 7210 Main St. opened in 2018. Owner and chef Scott Hoffner says the unassuming, family-friendly space aims to impress everyone who walks through the door. (Matt Payne/Community Impact Newspaper)
Didi’s Downtown chef dishes out diverse cuisine at Frisco's Rail District

“I really like to try to mix and meld a lot of flavors.”