Mayor Jeff Cheney; Ron Patterson, Frisco Economic Development Corp. president; and Frisco Fire Chief Mark Piland discussed the city’s plans and guidelines for reopening at the Frisco Chamber of Commerce’s virtual event April 28.
“We’re ready to put our foot back on the gas and get back to the Frisco we know,” Cheney said during the event.
Frisco City Council voted at a special meeting April 27 to amend its emergency ordinance to align with Gov. Abbott’s revised plan to reopen Texas.
Beginning May 1, Frisco’s retail, restaurants, movie theaters, museums, malls and libraries can open at 25% of their listed occupancy, according to Phase 1 of the governor’s plan.
Cheney said there has been confusion in the business community over what occupancy number to use.
“A restaurant’s listed occupancy may be higher than the number of chairs that they have,” Cheney said. “It isn’t necessarily 25% of what they’re used to having in the establishment. It’s 25% of listed occupancy.”
Many of Frisco’s restaurants have a listed occupancy of 250-300 people, Cheney said.
“We have a few clarifying questions still out to the governor’s office about [counting] servers in that,” he said “'Or is it just the patrons? Are we able to extend that with patio usage?'—and some other things as far as how we, maybe, could push that capacity a little bit.”
Patterson said the EDC is working with the Frisco Fire Department to offer tools to the city’s business community for how they should operate during Phase 1.
“You’ll be able to put in your business address and see what your occupancy load looks like so that you can comply with [Frisco’s order],” he said.
Until that tool is released, Patterson said every restaurant should have a placard in their establishment indicating their occupancy number.
“That is the number you would be basing your 25% on,” he said.
Piland said the new tool will also let businesses know if they have the green light to operate during Phase 1.
Restaurants with more than 51% in alcohol sales are currently not eligible to open, Patterson said.
The city is also looking to open the Ruff Range dog park; Dash’s Track disc golf; and tennis, volleyball, pickle ball and basketball courts May 1, Cheney said.
The Frisco Public Library is currently figuring out when it will open, and city playgrounds and parks will soon be phased in as well, he said.
“My hope is that by the end of May, the state of Texas, and certainly Frisco, is considered substantially open,” Cheney said.
Churches and places of worship can begin hosting services beginning May 1 under certain restrictions. Cheney said the governor’s website has instructions for how churches should start opening.
Meetings for Frisco’s boards and commissions will continue to be virtual during Phase 1, Cheney said.
Before the announcement of the governor’s plan, Colleyville Mayor Richard Newton announced last week its residents could attend churches and places of worship under social distancing guidelines, dine at restaurants with outdoor patios with tables spaced apart and attend one-on-one visits with salons, gyms and massage establishments.
While Frisco restaurants and churches can start reopening May 1, Cheney said the city is working to get an opinion from the Texas Attorney General's Office to see whether Newton’s guidelines for salons, gyms and massage establishments are in compliance with the governor’s order.
“If they deem that to be in compliance with the governor’s order, then, we may come back later this week and institute some of those,” he said.
Cheney said he and council are hoping to reopen Frisco as soon as possible.
“We do not think the governor is moving as fast as we would like,” Cheney said. “But we certainly understand that he’s making decisions for the whole state and not just Frisco.”
Until the city hears back from the attorney general, Cheney said Frisco will likely ride out Phase 1 without additional reopenings.
As more testing becomes available in May, Cheney said confirmed cases of COVID-19 may increase in Frisco.
However, a jump in cases could be more attributed to the increased testing than the reopening of businesses, he said.
Piland said Frisco’s hospitals and intensive care units have the capacity to withstand another spike of COVID-19 cases if it occurs after reopening.
“For people that are concerned about that, that’s certainly valid,” he said. “I just want them to be rest assured that we’re prepared for that. We will watch that extremely carefully.”