UPDATE: On March 26, the Fort Worth City Council unanimously voted to extend an emergency stay-at-home declaration for the city through April 7.
In their fight against the spread of COVID-19, Fort Worth, Arlington, Mansfield, and other cities in Tarrant County have expanded their disaster declarations — but are not enacting full shelter-in-place orders that have been made by Dallas and other major cities.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams, and Mansfield Mayor David Cook came together at a press conference on March 24 to announce what they are calling a "work safe" program in which some businesses are still open and residents can do essential tasks such as food shopping, but are not on full lockdown.
Residents are encouraged to stay at home but not required to do so.
"Go to work, and then go home," Price said. "Today's announcement is not meant to be alarmist or cause a panic. It's about a call to do our part and you do your part to slow the spread of COVID-19."
This is Fort Worth's fifth amendment on its declaration of disaster and it allows:
- healthcare operations such as hospitals, pharmacies, dentists, healthcare and mental health providers, substance abuse facilities, blood banks, medical research, and vets
- government functions
- critical infrastructure including residential and commercial construction, airports, water, sewer, gas, transportation, telecomm systems, computing, financial institutions, and "essential" manufacturing
- retail including groceries, warehouse, big box, gas stations, convenience stores, laundromats, dry cleaners, auto supply, bike repair, hardware stores, shipping companies, farmers markets, liquor stores, and restaurants that do takeout only
- residential services including trash, recycling building cleaning, plumbers, pool services, security, electricians, exterminators, legal and accounting
- media, banks, realtors, childcare, funeral services, and moving companies
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins enacted a full lockdown on March 22, which restricts Dallas County residents from leaving their homes for anything but essential tasks. That does not include leaving home for work.
The city of Richardson followed suit on March 23 with the Richardson City Council voting unanimously to enact a shelter-in-place order. The city of Garland has also enacted a shelter-in-place order.
"This Sunday, the Governor called for people to stay home," Price said. "He's charged local officials with making the call to move the stay at home order. We received that message and began working with 6 to 7 cities in the big metropolitan areas to get all of us on the same page."
Mayor Williams echoed Price's words but called the program "work smart," stating that he and other Tarrant County leaders had joined in a conference call with Tarrant County Judge Whitley to make a "united front."